By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Finance Winston Jordan wants Guyana to start looking ahead. He said that it makes no sense
continuing to waste time lamenting on whether or not Guyana may have received a good or bad deal. The Minister said that what is now important is for Guyanese to look to the future with hope for development.
Jordan hosted a press conference yesterday at his Main Street Office. At that forum, he was asked if he was happy with the deal Guyana has secured with oil giant ExxonMobil.
Jordan refused to answer the question in the simple negative or affirmative. He took a different route. The Minister told reporters, “It is not for me to be happy or unhappy.”
Jordan said that once Cabinet approves a document, all members have a collective responsibility. “If you do not like something (a Cabinet decision) and you are passionate about it, you have the option to resign. It (the agreement) has been discussed, received and approved by Cabinet. We have gone beyond that.”
The Finance Minister took the opportunity to note that there have been tremendous attempts at oil exploration in Guyana. He even referred to a time in Guyana’s history when oil was reportedly found in Takutu. The Minister said that the announcement back then about an oil find sparked much celebration. However, a few days later there was another announcement that the oil found was not commercially viable.
Further, Jordan sought to point out that ExxonMobil had no easy task in accessing Guyana’s oil.
The Minister noted that “the depth of water that ExxonMobil is currently drilling in is unheard of. So they had to have specific types of technology not known to too many”.
Jordan also made note of the level of financing that has to be available to ExxonMobil for it to carry out drilling of that magnitude. “And, I believe the further out they go will be more depth which will require even more technology.”
Jordan said that the deepest ExxonMobil ever drilled before is said to be in the Gulf of Mexico and that is nothing in comparison to the depth at which it has gone offshore Guyana.
Jordan went on to state that APNU+AFC did not have full control over what kind of deal Guyana secured. He said that the current government did not renegotiate the contract.
“With all this issue about good deal and so on, you are making an assumption that we renegotiated the contract. That contract was already in place, we inherited that contract,” said Jordan.
The Minister summed up his discussion on the matter by saying it is time Guyanese look to the future and hope for the best. He said, “We can talk till cow come home but in going forward, we can say that discoveries not covered by this contract we have a basis to drive a harder bargain and negotiate for more. But when people are going to go (that length) it’s a risk and private people look for reward.”
Minister Jordan gave an analogy of the situation at hand. He said that someone can choose to stand up in a gambling den and look on all night. However, Jordan said that at the end of the night that person will be no richer or poorer. “But if I go with the big boys or girls and put my millions, at the end of the night I can be x millions poorer or y millions richer, it is about the risk.”
The Minister continued, “When you put all together it is not whether we got a good deal or bad deal or whatever… we got a deal.” Using another gambling metaphor, Jordan said that “hindsight will always be 20/20, but at the time you are making a deal it depends on what cards you hold and what the other person holds. If you think you have the best hand, then you can drive the bargain. At the time when this deal was put together by the last government you have to ask what cards did we hold? Did we know anything was under there?
Jordan said that while the deal has already been made, Guyana still has a chance to experience real growth.
He said, “We can discuss this over and over, but I believe the positive that you can take away is that we now have resources coming to Guyana that can finally put Guyana on the path to sustained high end development where two percent and three can become things of the past.”
The Minister noted, “It depends on how well we use these resources.”
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