While the Government has released the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) it has with ExxonMobil, it is still to make public, key documents attached to the contract, such as the Bridging Deed. The purpose of this Deed as stated in the contract is to replace the 1999 Agreement and Petroleum Prospecting Licence.
Former President Janet Jagan had signed the 1999 Agreement in violation of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act (the Act) to the extent that the company (Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited) was granted approximately 600 blocks instead of the 60 blocks permitted by law.
Local commentators have noted that the 1999 Agreement and Prospecting Licence appears to have been contained in a single package (the Bridging Deed) which includes a full description of the blocks and a map of the area allotted to the oil company. However, the 2016 Agreement merely states that Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman granted a Petroleum Prospecting Licence for an initial period of four years.
With the Bridging Deed not being published, local critics have said that the Government is operating in contradiction of the nation’s petroleum laws.
Section 16(2) of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act states: “The Minister, shall, as soon as may be practicable after a licence has been granted, cause notice of that fact to be published in the Gazette stating the name of the licensee and the situation of the land in respect of which the licence has been granted.”
In spite of the aforementioned, Trotman is of the view that the Bridging Deed not being published is not an indication of anything sinister. He made these and other comments during his most recent press conference.
There, he also expounded on the purpose of the Bridging Deed. He said that it was just ExxonMobil giving up its previous licence in order to get a new one.
“The person who held those documents is Sir Shridath Ramphal. He was the person who the government and the company agreed was a good person – who they held confidence in, and I would need to speak with him. There is nothing sinister about it. Our commitment was to share with the world, the contract, and the Bridging Deed was just something like a holding mechanism, so that while you are giving up one thing you wouldn’t lose your rights while waiting to get a new licence.”
The politician added, “There is nothing sinister about the arrangement, it is quite normal. In legislation, it is called a savings clause. So that all things done in the past are still recognized as you transition.”
That aside, Trotman’s failure to publish the Bridging Deed has earned him scathing criticisms from several quarters. In this regard, Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram has said that Trotman has taken legal gymnastics to a completely new level.
Ram asserted that Trotman obviously decided to complete the concealment of the 2016 Agreement by failing to comply with section 16 (2) of the Act. The Attorney-at-Law told Kaieteur News that this is a worrying precedent.
The auditor added, “Did Trotman decide that he could bypass the provisions of the legislation and do as he chose? Clearly he does not consider himself bound by any laws and free to violate them as he chooses.”
Ram emphasized that a prospecting licence can only be granted on the basis of an application made in accordance with the Act. He said that the application must contain a whole range of information as prescribed by the Act and Regulations, including proposals for local content in terms of employment and the procurement of goods and services.
Also in agreement with Ram is political commentator Ramon Gaskin. The Chartered Accountant said that the Government is without a doubt operating in contradiction of the nation’s petroleum laws. And with such behaviour from Trotman, Gaskin argued that the Government has lost all moral ground to criticize anyone about secrecy.
Sep 22, 2018The 2018 Indigenous Heritage Games (IHG) was officially kicked off by Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock yesterday morning at the at the Everest Cricket Club (ECC) Ground,...
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]