Aug 30, 2017 News
The excuse by Government that confidentiality clauses inhibit the release of oil contracts in Guyana, particularly the one with ExxonMobil, does not sit well with a number of anti-corruption advocates.
Speaking recently on this matter was Chartered Accountant Chris Ram. On his website, www.chrisram.net, the anti-corruption advocate said it is important for one to bear in mind that the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) under which oil companies are granted licences for the exploration and development of petroleum, indeed, imposes confidentiality obligations.
Ram noted however that this is ONLY in respect of “petroleum data, information and reports obtained or prepared by the oil companies”. The attorney-at-law said that any statement to the contrary is not only misleading but false.
Ram said that the principle of transparency and the overriding public interest in such contracts have even caused a number of such contracts to be made available both at the national and international levels.
In this regard, the Chartered Accountant noted that the University of Dundee, Scotland; Revenue Watch Institute, an Non-Governmental Organization; the World Bank, among others (resourcecontracts.org) are facilitating the process by collecting and disseminating them in searchable databases on the internet.
Additionally, the attorney-at-law commented, “Neither law, logic nor the public interest requires or favours the continuing withholding of the oil contracts signed by the Government of Guyana ostensibly acting on behalf of the people of the country.”
Kaieteur News had even carried an article which reveals that over 50 countries around the world make their contracts open for scrutiny.
This was exposed by the website, Openoil.net. These contracts are also available for download on that website. Openoil has one of the world’s first comprehensive archive lists of oil contracts. These are pulled from states such as Mexico, Angola, Chad, Guatemala, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Syria, and Ukraine.
ExxonMobil has operations in all of the mentioned countries in which disclosure of contracts is practiced.
Officials, who support the Openoil webpage, categorically believe that all contracts which govern publicly owned natural resources and the livelihoods of people should be placed into the open for all to access and examine.
This view, however rational or honourable, is not held by all of Guyana’s policy leaders.
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