The Government of Guyana wants oil companies operating here to be successful, but at the same time Guyanese must be able to enjoy maximum benefits from the sector as well; and this is the approach that will be taken moving forward in relation to the way the sector is managed.
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo firmly expressed this view during a recent local radio programme ‘Guyana’s Oil and You’.
According to Jagdeo, the Peoples Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) made certain commitments during the political campaign and will do what it takes to ensure that those promises are fulfilled.
“The whole philosophy is; we want the oil companies to prosper, but Guyanese have to share that prosperity. If we don’t then we might as well shut down the sector,” he declared.
In this regard, the Vice President disclosed that the Government will be moving to have stringent local content legislation in place by year-end that would seek to ensure that Guyanese citizens and companies have equal access to the opportunities that are afforded.
“We made it clear to ExxonMobil; this is not a new position…that we intend to pass Local Content Legislation, which the previous government did not do, which will force oil companies to ensure that they address the issues that are of pressing nature to our business community and ordinary people,” he lamented.
Jagdeo expressed that enough has not been done to allow Guyanese to benefit from the developments that are taking place and in this regard, the government will seek to engage the oil companies very soon.
The Vice President further indicated the new legislation will make it mandatory for companies such as ExxonMobil to ensure that even their subcontractors strictly adhere to local content requirements.
“They will have a responsibility to ensure that their subcontractors also observe rigidly the provision of the legislation in relation local content,” he warned.
Jagdeo bemoaned the fact that foreign companies benefit from certain concessions which give them an unfair advantage over local companies.
He explained that there are lots of work that could be done by Guyanese companies that are subcontracted to foreign companies. “That has to change,” he firmly stated.
While noting that Guyanese cannot build a FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel) at the moment, Jagdeo insisted that they can definitely provide a whole range of services that are now contracted out to foreign companies.
He went on to add that Guyanese are doing the same jobs and they get less pay, “that can’t happen in the future,” he declared.
During a recent press briefing, Jagdeo had explained that the Department of Energy which was set up by the APNU/AFC to manage Guyana’s oil and gas sector, did not have any draft legislation on local content in place, only “position papers”.
He highlighted that there were inputs made by various stakeholders before, which would have been good for Guyanese and at the same time ExxonMobil would not have been affected, but these were never taken on board by the previous Government.
The Government will now have to begin working immediately to ensure that the process is fast-tracked. On this basis, Jagdeo said the President will meet with the entire Guyanese community directly to garner their opinions on local content “so that people will be free to express their views”.
According to Jagdeo, the Government will come up with “the best technical input” before it arrives at a negotiating brief. Once this is cleared at the policy level, the Government will then seek to engage directly with ExxonMobil.
“We are moving swiftly, we are hoping that before the end of the year that we have draft legislation that we can put before the parliament to deal with local content and driving more business and jobs for our people”.
The Vice President had announced several measures which are being taken to ensure that the oil and gas sector is effectively managed; one of which includes the setting up of a Petroleum Commission within the next six months.