On January 18, last, the Government of Ghana signed a contract with ExxonMobil for offshore exploration. The area agreed upon to conduct the operations is the Deepwater Cape Three Point oilfield.
The Contract was kept from prying eyes, but not for long. Within the space of two weeks, the contract was leaked.
Upon conducting detailed assessments, Ghana’s civil society realized that the contract, which was praised by the government as being “the best deal for the nation in recent years,” was actually a total disappointment, as it was simply generous to ExxonMobil.
Civil society members denounced it as the “worst deal in Ghana’s history”.
Unlike what is currently taking place in Guyana, the Government of Ghana listened to the concerns of its citizens. In less than a week of the public outcry, the administration assured the citizenry that the contract would be turned over to Parliament, so that a “better deal” can be negotiated on the people’s behalf.
GUYANA’S GOVT. UNMOVED
It was in December 2017 that the Government of Guyana released the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) it signed with ExxonMobil. Since then, local commentators have been flooding the daily newspapers about the flaws of the 2016 Agreement.
Some of these include the fact that ExxonMobil trapped Guyana with US$460M in start-up costs and that it has access to unlimited duty free concessions.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman has also been criticized for agreeing to give ExxonMobil seven days’ notice before he can check the entity’s books. This is in stark contrast to what is practiced in other oil-producing nations which have complete access to the records of operators at any time. To add insult to injury, the Government of Guyana agreed to conduct one audit a year on ExxonMobil.
Critics have also highlighted the fact that Guyana gave up the right to check purchasing bills of ExxonMobil in countries with restrictive disclosure laws, regarding operations here. What is also worse is that ExxonMobil is exempt from any new law, tax or otherwise here.
With the aforementioned in mind, civil society has called for the Government to renegotiate the contract, which has been described as “lopsided.”
In spite of these calls for close to a month, Government is yet to react positively to the voice of the people.
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