Jagdeo says Exxon must play greater role in developing local capacity

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Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said that US oil giant, ExxonMobil, has to play a greater role in assisting Guyana to develop a core team of indigenous professionals to manage the local oil and gas sector.

Speaking on a local radio programme, “Guyana’s Oil and You”, Jagdeo pointed out that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government intends to eventually move to a Petroleum Commission to overlook the sector and deal with all the technical issues in the contracts. This way, he explained, there will be less ministerial and political involvement.

However, Jagdeo noted that Guyana needs to have the capacity in key areas such as policy capability, enforcement and compliance capability as well as auditing capability to effectively manage the petroleum industry.

To this end, he said that Government wants to create “a core of Guyanese managers” – putting about 400 to 500 of the country’s youngest and brightest minds on scholarships, and/or training them.

As such, he noted that Exxon, Guyana’s largest operator offshore, must share the cost of this. Exxon along with its partners are operating in the Stabroek Block, where there are an estimated eight billion barrels of oil.

“Now the company pays millions of US dollars for its bureaucracy and we share half of the cost, that is, the cost oil. So now they too must provide enough funds for Guyana to build a great capacity, it’s own capacity, to monitor the sector,” he contended.

This, according to Jagdeo, will be good for the oil company as they will have a core of professionals to deal with since sometimes people without the necessary expertise can be unreasonable in negotiations.

“But if you have a good quality indigenous capacity, that is, Guyanese capacity… in the long run, it helps [the companies] to have qualified regulators… and we want our people to become the regulators in the future,” he asserted.

According to the Vice President, while Guyana can raise funds for this by way of grants and loans as well as securing experts to conduct training, the oil company should help to fund some of these costs too.