President David Granger and his Trinidadian counterpart Dr Keith Rowley moments ago at State House in Guyana inked the hotly debated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would see collaborations with the two countries as Guyana positions itself to exploit the oil and gas sector that is expected to start seeing production in 2020.
President Granger during the singing outlined that the MoU is premised around energy cooperation between the two countries.
Moreover, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Dr Rowley posited that Trinidad has been a gateway for Guyana and a neighbour with which we’ve had close relation and ties.
He noted that the MoU is a deepening of relations, where he hopes “that the laying of groundwork for the private sector of both countries will be achieved by both Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.”
It was outlined that the framework agreement for the MoU will come on stream by October 1, 2018.
The MoU signing comes on the heels of concerns raised locally by the observers and stakeholders about the benefits that would redound to Guyanese, more specifically the local businesses within the private sector, with the singing of such an agreement.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) was one such body that requested Government to hold off on signing the MoU with T&T, asking that its members be consulted first, as they fear that this could possibly open the flood gates for foreign companies to take over the oil industry.
President of the GCCI, Deodat Indar said Guyanese businesses are already being sidestepped and instead contracts have been awarded to foreign-based companies to benefit from the local oil sector. But the GCCI wants the local Private Sector to get its “piece of the pie.”
Following the concerns raised, the President had said that he would make the MoU public.
“It’s just a MoU… It is just an agreement to cooperate. It is not a secret document. In fact, it was vetted by the Department of Energy and the Foreign Affairs Ministry and I will ask that the document to be released” he said as he sought to quell the concerns raised.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports suggest that T&T is seeking to get the Guyana Government to take a stake in the Petrotrin refinery, and in this way acquire a strategic asset.
The proposal is to ensure that Guyana gets its share of oil from ExxonMobil closer to home, and in this way employment would be provided to people of both countries.
Earlier this week, Petrotrin’s Board confirmed plans to close the company’s refinery in October in a move which will cause the loss of 1700 permanent jobs. However, the figures for the expected job losses has since grown to over 4000 after factoring in temporary workers, among others in various departments.
It was following this announcement that former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader of T&T, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said her country should attempt to partner with Guyana to save Petrotrin.
But following this suggestion, members of civil society had come out encouraging Government, the Private Sector and citizens at large to guard against what is being described as a clear attempt by that Caribbean country to monopolise opportunities in Guyana’s emerging oil and gas sector.