“I find it surprising that ExxonMobil has been relaying information to the Coalition Government, on a quarterly basis, given the reticence of this Administration when it comes to keeping the Guyanese public informed of the developments in the oil and gas sector.”
These were the words of Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo as he hauled the incumbent Administration over the proverbial coals for what he says is their ‘proclivity for secrecy’ that has left the population none the wiser on the business transactions that are taking place within the the oil and gas sector.
Exxon was quoted in the media as saying that it utilised the services of 309 local suppliers last year. Moreover, for 2018 the oil giant said that it also utilized approximately 227 local suppliers.
While stakeholders were optimistic that the oil giant was utilizing hundreds of local businesses to procure its goods and services, many had called for the names of the over 300 companies to be divulged.
Among other things, ExxonMobil had said that it “submits the list of companies to the government on a quarterly basis,” while outlining that the “government can verify the list and or attest to the public that we do in fact submit the data to the government. Or the government can choose to disclose the list.”
According to Jagdeo “the non-disclosure of the names of local companies engaged by ExxonMobil has been the latest issue on which Minister Raphael Trotman has been called out on, despite calls by myself and other members of civil society for this to be done, months ago. Guyanese would recall that, last month, when asked about his failure to make the disclosure, Minister Trotman was flippant in saying that he ‘did not know why Exxon had not released the names’ of the local companies it engaged.”
Moreover, Jagdeo said that “there is nothing stopping his release of the names of the local companies. I wish to repeat my call for the list of 309 local companies used by ExxonMobil in 2017 and the 227 used during the first quarter of 2018 to be released.”
Meanwhile Jagdeo, who is also an economist by profession, waded into the coalition Government on their re-negotiation of the oil contract with Exxon.
According to the 2016 Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) that Minister of Natural Resources, Trotman signed with ExxonMobil, Government will have to pay US $460M in pre-contract costs for “contract costs, exploration costs, operating costs, service costs, and general and administrative costs and annual overhead charge as those terms are defined in the 1999 Petroleum agreement.”
Outlining Exxon’s position that it was welcoming of audits over its pre-contract costs, which the company said is ‘expected and customary’ in the oil sector, Jagdeo questioned if “ExxonMobil is open to an audit, why wasn’t this done? Why did the Coalition Government not audit the pre-contract costs, before including it in the re-negotiated contract? Why was there no verification done? There was clearly no push-back from ExxonMobil.”
As such, Jagdeo said “I think it is clear, again, that the Coalition Government failed the Guyanese people in the re-negotiation of the oil contract.Given this state of affairs, there is reason for alarm regarding the quality of representation Guyanese received from the Coalition Government in this re-negotiation.”
“Last month I stated that fair questions had been asked by civic-minded Guyanese about the pre-contract costs and they should be answered. Today, I reiterate my call for the Government to resist its proclivity towards secrecy and ensure that the answers to these questions are given” said Jagdeo in a statement.