The opposition must launch a Parliamentary probe into the PPP’s actions on oil exploration
It has now been 15 years since the PPP has started this rigmarole that is the search for oil in Guyana. Fifteen (15) years of frustration and incompetence hiding behind outright ineptitude. Now that CGX has come up empty on one well, I am calling on behalf of every Guyanese for the opposition to launch an open Parliamentary enquiry into the PPP’s actions relating to the search for oil. That said, I am hopeful the other well being drilled at present finds oil.
Every single Guyanese wants this country to find oil. However, what the PPP has done in the past 15 years is to make a mockery of the desire of the Guyanese people to discover oil. Here are the reasons why the opposition must ask serious questions about this oil fiasco.
Firstly, what prompted the PPP government to grant the biggest exploration licences to a company that is a virtual unknown in the oil exploration business? CGX was created shortly before it got the Guyana licences. I could find no other evidence of CGX holding licences comparable to Guyana anywhere else. I could not find evidence of CGX exploring anywhere else but Guyana.
CGX has no history of oil exploration success before the PPP handed them the keys to Guyana’s oil exploration hopes in a region called the second largest resource potential on earth by the US Geological Survey (USGS). As my American kids would say, that sucks. It sucks to the rankest levels.
Secondly, commonsense, integrity, duty to the nation, competency and placement of the Guyanese people’s interests first would dictate the PPP get into bed with a massive multinational company with hundreds of billions at its disposal to discover and exploit the oil quickly enough so that the country can benefit in the shortest time possible or the PPP create a national oil company.
CGX’s delay in getting this well dug is confirmation of its small size in the market. Now that it went over budget with this well and its stock has fallen more than 60% since the announcement of a dry well, it will have a hell of a time raising money to dig another well. This means more delays. Another well is not coming anytime soon.
The opposition must investigate and tell us who are the players behind CGX and the history of its creation. The opposition must get the PPP to answer why its cabal chose to hand over exploration of the nation’s potential wealth to a small-time player when there are massive oil companies like Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and next-door Brazilian Petrobras which could have launched many wells by now and applied better technology and expertise to find oil? Why not require that exploration licences be handed out to oil companies that possess at least US$2 billion in capital that could drill enough wells to test whether oil is present or not in a short period of time? One of those giants mentioned would have told us by now if there is really oil present offshore.
Thirdly, the opposition must question the recent moves by the PPP as they appear to relate to the potential oil industry. Is there anything more to the newly created Ministry of Natural Resources being held by Jagdeo protégé, Robert Persaud? Was NICIL intended to handle proceeds from the sale of oil? Is this why the PPP refused to bring NICIL under public scrutiny because it wanted to put billions of US dollars of oil revenues into it and not have the public see what is being done to the money?
Should we read anything into Dr. Suresh Narine, a Jagdeo advisor and confidante, being appointed a director of CGX Energy Inc. just recently and quickly being elevated to Chairman of the company when he has no experience running a publicly traded resource company?
The PPP, as usual, made a horrendously incompetent decision in giving the licences to CGX. CGX was/is too small and too new to spend the kind of money needed to search for and find oil quickly. Too many people are living in poverty in Guyana for the PPP to make incompetent and disserving decisions like these with the nation’s resources. By making this atrocious decision, the PPP has ensured the Guyanese people have lost and continue to lose an opportunity for development.
The PPP’s decision to put most of the nation’s eggs in oil exploration in the CGX basket has delayed the nation’s potential for a developmental takeoff. That is the kind of incompetence that attracts investigation in normal democracies. Parliament needs to do its job and open an enquiry about this oil exploration mess. It is grave disservice and rank disrespect to the nation and to the Guyanese people for any government to know that its country is overflowing with poverty and suffering and yet not take proper steps to ensure its resources are explored and tapped expeditiously.
Fourthly, a government is saddled with responsible management of a nation’s resources. It must responsibly make the best decisions to benefit the people. Guyana’s oil exploration under the PPP has not been responsible, competent and qualitative. We need the opposition to tell us why. Fifthly, the opposition must examine whether the licences are better served in the hands of another oil company. The self-serving and often pocket-filling decision-making process within the PPP destroys this country’s ability to get maximum value for its money and maximum value from the decisions made by those it elected. These ridiculously poor decisions further impoverish already poor people.
Sixthly, why didn’t the PPP create like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others, a national oil company to fund the exploration ourselves? Why was there no public auction process for the leases and on what criteria was CGX selected? Does CGX, struggling to raise cash, have the money to pay for any environmental cleanup if it finds a well that blows out? If CGX finds oil on its own, it will have to enter into joint ventures to build a field which can cost billions of US dollars. This further delays the process. Petrobras plans to build 45 new floating rigs/platforms at a cost of US $4-$5 billion each in the next few decades.
It is the duty of any government to ensure that the resources of the nation it governs are explored and tapped expeditiously. The PPP has failed in this duty. It must be investigated. The AFC and APNU must review the entirety of the PPP’s actions on Guyana’s oil exploration and let the truth come to light. Failure to do so would confirm the opposition’s incompetence.