The reprehensible 2016 agreement signed between Exxon and the government of Guyana has to go down in history as the most disagreeable and shameful agreement in the history of the Caribbean. It is perhaps the worst oil deal negotiated in the history of civilization.
Exxon has taken advantage of Guyana. It has used its stronger negotiating experience and superior access to legal skills to extract a deal which is lopsided and which deprives Guyanese of a fair deal.
Guyana is an innocent virgin when it comes to the oil industry. Guyana has had no experience in the oil industry. Instead of helping us to understand this industry, Exxon has violated Guyana’s innocence. It has left us bruised, traumatized and hurting.
The 2% royalty which it has offered is a rip-off. This is perhaps the lowest royalty offered in the world. It is totally unacceptable. It must be rejected by all the people of this country.
Yet, there are forces in our society who are trying to tell us, again – despite the rejection the first time they tried it – that we should not be too concerned with what we are getting from Exxon, but how we are going to spend it.
It is like a poor woman inheriting a million-dollar diamond ring and someone comes and offers $100,000. When it is pointed out that this is one-tenth of the value of the ring, the buyer tells the seller that she should not be worried about what is being paid but what she, a poor person, will do with the $100,000.
It is an insult to the people of this nation to be told that they should start planning how they will spend the money. What is there to spend when there is a 2% royalty and when there is a 75% cap on revenues for cost recovery and when there is 50% production sharing?
The monies we are told will go into a Sovereign Wealth Fund which caps the percentage that can be taken out each year. Norway takes out 4% each year, but it has been an oil producer for years and the value of the accumulated fund is among the highest in the world.
There are always people who try to tell you how to spend your money. Guyanese have to beware of some of these individuals.
What you get for your resources is just as important as how you spend it. The less you get, the less you have to spend. The more you get, the more you can spend or save. So there is nothing wrong with Guyanese insisting that this obnoxious contract which was signed with Exxon must be renegotiated so that a fair deal can be had.
It has happened before and it can happen again, but public pressure must be brought to bear on Exxon so that they cannot come into our country and rob us of our oil wealth. We will not accept this, even if what we end up getting will come in handy. We cannot accept a situation where Exxon is rolling in cash while Guyana is thrown crumbs.
Guyana is rich. There are persons who are gasping when they are told about the amount of oil offshore in our waters. A few wells have been drilled and already we are told that we have 3.2 billion barrels of oil. Multiply that by the present prices for crude on the market and you will realize the value of the resource which we have at our disposal.
Guyana cannot short-change itself. Guyanese have waited a long time to reach the end of the rainbow. But instead of a pot of gold, Guyana is being thrown a few dollar coins and is being told by persons in our country that we should not be too disheartened by these few coins which we will receive. They are saying that we should be more worried as to how we will spend it. Guyanese must beware of those bringing this message.
Guyanese deserve a better deal… for our children and grandchildren’s sake.
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