State Minister will not speculate about contents of GoG’s contract with ExxonMobil – in response to Christopher Ram

DPI, GUYANA, Friday, November 3, 2017

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, in response to Attorney-at-law, Christopher Ram’s claim that the Government has signed a new agreement with Oil company, ExxonMobil, which it has refused to make public, on Friday, endorsed a public statement made by the Minister of Natural Resources that the contract would be made public at a later date to be announced.

Speaking at his post-Cabinet press conference on Friday, Minister Harmon said that, “I am not prepared to deal with any speculation as to what it is that is part of that contract. If Mr. Ram has seen the contract he could make it public, but I am saying that the Minister of Natural Resources has actually made a public statement on the matter and I will stand behind the Minister’s statement.”

Ram in his newspaper column published in the Stabroek News alleged that the government used the excuse of a new licence to extract a US$20M signature bonus, from Exxon Mobil.

Further, he alleged that Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman signed the new contract with ExxonMobil, waiving the opportunity to correct what he described as some obvious errors in the original contract.

He also claimed that these may be among the reasons why the government continues to hold out on making the contract available. However, the State Minister has expressed confidence that when the time is right, Minister Trotman will make all the details public.

Back in June, Minister Harmon had addressed the issue of public disclosure regarding the contract, citing “legal consideration” that prevents this.

According to the State Minister, the Petroleum Act provides for a “confidentiality clause” in contracts like Exxon’s “which says that during the course of the negotiations that certain things have to be kept in a confidential way”.

The 1997 amended Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act makes provision for the “restriction of disclosure of information” in Part II, Section Four. The Act stipulates that “no information…by a licensee shall be disclosed to any person who is not a Minister, a public office or an employee of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission except with the consent of the licensee”.

By: Stacy Carmichael

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