Energy Dept says COVID-19, political situation impacting oil & gas sector

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Director of the Energy Department Dr Mark Bynoe

The onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the prevailing political situation, have impacted Guyana’s oil sector and caused delays in a number of areas, according to the Energy Department.

This was revealed by Director of the Energy Department, Dr Mark Bynoe, during a Zoom interview with the media on Monday. Bynoe explained that a number of operators, especially Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), have had to adjust their work plans due to the circumstances.

“The major challenge for all operators, whether it be Repsol or CGX or EEPGL, is the issue of having to change out their workforce. Given that they’re supposed to be working 28 days on, 28 days off,” Bynoe explained.

“With airports being closed out, some of these workers are coming from different parts. In fact, I think the last estimate was 45 different destinations for EEPGL alone. This caused an impact on their work plan.”

He cited the fact that since many of these workers come from all over the world, travel restrictions in place to combat COVID in Guyana and other countries will directly hinder them from flying in.

Another impacted area is the contract for the cost oil audit being done on Exxon, which was awarded to UK firm IHS Markit last year. According to Bynoe, they have had to extend the period for the audit owing to the travel restrictions.

Similarly, the Department has had to extend the time for interested firms to respond to a tender for a marketing firm for Guyana’s oil. At one point in time, 34 companies had expressed an interest in snagging the contract.

Bynoe explained that a number of companies nevertheless sought to use unconventional means to deliver their bids to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), such as couriers.

However, only last week, ExxonMobil, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Darren Woods, said that with Guyana’s electoral process dragging out now for two months without a credible result being announced, the political crisis has led to delays in approvals for the development of ExxonMobil’s Payara project in the Stabroek Block.

Woods reported that the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is presenting a challenge to the company in terms of rotating its crews in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Chairperson came in for much criticism for allowing Region Four’s (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, to make two declarations which lacked transparency.