Looking back, it should not surprise anyone as to why the government waited for more than a year to release the oil contract to the public after it was signed. Since its release last December, several prominent persons and the media have exposed some of the most glaring flaws in the oil contract.
After a careful examination of the contract, this newspaper has published a series of articles to highlight ExxonMobil’s poor track record around the world. Among other issues, the articles addressed the destruction of the environment and the lack of hiring local skilled personnel in several poor African countries, including Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea.
The relentless criticism of the contract seems to have led to adjustments in responsibilities for the lucrative oil and gas industries. The establishment of a new Department of Energy under the Ministry of the Presidency gave mileage to the claims made by the leader of the opposition that there was incompetent management of the very important industry.
The announcement came shortly after ExxonMobil announced another major oil find in the Stabroek region of Essequibo, thus bringing the total to seven discoveries. The government was already under fire for signing a horrible contract that significantly benefited ExxonMobil more than Guyana. The contract stipulated that Guyana would receive a two percent royalty and a 50/50 share in profit after all legitimate expenses are deducted by ExxonMobil. The problem is the government has absolutely no system in place at the moment to verify what constitutes legitimate expenses. In addition, without a drop of oil being pumped, ExxonMobil has submitted a bill for US$460 million to be paid by Guyana as expenses for its pre-contract operations.
The government just cannot get it right. Amidst the loud and growing concerns of an uneasy public, it was stated that the administration will hire an overseas firm to advise it on how to market the unassigned oil blocks. It shows that there is not only gross incompetence, but those in charge are clearly wasting the taxpayers’ money. Why hire a foreign company when the Petroleum Advisor to President Granger, Dr. Jan Mangal has already indicated that the remaining oil blocks should be auctioned. The auctioning of the oil blocks would definitely benefit Guyana because it will provide more money to the country due to a competitive bidding process from various companies.
It is not an exaggeration that the government has signed one of the worst contracts in modern history with ExxonMobil. The signing of such a horrible agreement is an invitation for the mighty multinational oil and gas corporation to plunder our natural resources.
As if to discredit the reports of the media and many oil experts, and bamboozle the public, several high ranking government officials have arrogantly continued to praise the corporation. One official in particular has called the critics of ExxonMobil unpatriotic, jokers and mere oppositionists. It is ludicrous and apathetic for the government to attempt to dismiss the ideas of people with sound knowledge of the issues. To label Guyanese as unpatriotic and jokers for condemning an unconscionable contract is a sign on backwardness. The fact that those in the government are behaving as though the country’s natural resources belong to them, and not the people, and that they have the right to give it away to ExxonMobil is offensive and ridiculous.
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