– Approval for lease still to be granted
The thick vegetation that once occupied the 10-acre plot of land that has been earmarked for oil giant, ExxonMobil, is starting to diminish.
Since last year, ExxonMobil “expressed interest” to Ogle Airport Inc. (OAI) for the lease of 10 acres of land at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.
OAI has told Kaieteur News that it is still in discussion with ExxonMobil for the lease of the land. However, this newspaper understands that the deal had already been made and that the holdup is with Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.
The Commission has the mandate, under the master lease agreement, to approve every sublease to be made by OAI.
The Commission is however uncomfortable with OAI leasing land for longer periods of time than the master lease prescribes—25 years. As a result, all leasing of land has been stalled; even the leases that OAI granted to Jags Aviation and Hopkinson Mining are still to be approved by the Commission.
OAI said that the Lands and Survey Commission is looking to renew the master lease before it can approve the new leases of 50 years.
Despite OAI not being able to grant finalised leases, ExxonMobil seems to have otherwise been assured that it can move forward as efforts are already underway to utilise the land. Suddenly, the trees are beginning to die.
While this newspaper has been told that ExxonMobil wanted to erect living quarters, a training school, a helipad, along with its headquarters, OAI recently told Kaieteur News that ExxonMobil is only interested in erecting its headquarters on the 10-acre land.
Asked why a company would need 10 acres of land upon which it will build its headquarters when it said that its onshore staff will be minimal, OAI said that foreigners have a different way of doing things.
One of OAI’s original investors, Michael Correia, said, “We may see 10 acres as a lot but it is not really.” He said ExxonMobil will use a few acres of land for parking alone. “Then those people will want to have proper landscaping and so on. So you have to consider all of that.”
He said that ExxonMobil plans to employ Guyanese for the construction of the headquarters.
Both Michael and his sister, Nicole Correia, insisted that local content will take the front burner as ExxonMobil is leasing the land from a local company—OAI. However, OAI maintained that it is still only in discussion with ExxonMobil and no agreement has been signed. This is despite the fact that the company has a developmental plan with a 10-acre plot clearly demarcated for ExxonMobil.
ExxonMobil also said that it will only be erecting its headquarters. However, ExxonMobil claimed that it signed a document with OAI. This goes contrary to what OAI has told Kaieteur News.
ExxonMobil said on its Facebook page, “Recent reports that ExxonMobil is planning to construct a hotel are inaccurate; we are currently examining our options for setting up a local head office. ExxonMobil’s affiliate in Guyana, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. signed an agreement with Ogle Airport Inc. expressing mutual interest in potentially sub-leasing approximately 10 acres of land for an extended period within the Ogle Airport Property. We currently lease two office buildings in Georgetown and are currently exploring options to commission an office to accommodate our long-term growth here in Guyana over the next several decades.
ExxonMobil Guyana, Senior Director of Public and Government Affairs, Kimberly Brassington, views this as necessary as we strive to contract and employ more qualified individuals including Guyanese personnel in both short-term and long-term position; we currently have over 50% Guyanese working to support our operations in Guyana, and that is expected to increase over the next few years.”
This newspaper understands that never before has there been a case where a company signed an agreement expressing interest.
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