Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has noted ExxonMobil’s position that it is open to audits of its $460M pre-contract, saying that audits are “expected and customary” in the oil sector.
Jagdeo thinks that this announcement highlights, once again, the fact that the Coalition Government “failed the Guyanese people in the renegotiation of the oil contract.”
Jagdeo reasoned, that if ExxonMobil is not opposed to an audit, that means that the company would not have put up a resistance if government had requested an audit of the US$460M.
The Opposition Leader asked, “If ExxonMobil is open to an audit, why wasn’t this done? Why did the Coalition Government not audit the pre-contract costs, before including it in the renegotiated contract? Why was there no verification done? There was clearly no pushback from ExxonMobil.”
Jagdeo said that given this state of affairs, there is reason for alarm regarding the quality of representation Guyanese received from the Coalition Government in the renegotiation of the contract, which Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman regarded as a simple “update”.
“Last month I stated that fair questions had been asked by civic-minded Guyanese about the pre-contract costs and they should be answered. Today, I reiterate my call for the Government to resist its proclivity towards secrecy and ensure that the answers to these questions are given.” said Jagdeo.
Further, Jagdeo said that he finds it “surprising” that ExxonMobil has been relaying information to the Coalition Government, on a quarterly basis, “given the reticence of this Administration when it comes to keeping the Guyanese public informed of the developments in the oil and gas sector. “
The Opposition Leader noted that despite calls by him and other members of civil society for the names of the 309 companies, being engaged by ExxonMobil to be made public, Trotman continues to keep the information secret.
“Guyanese would recall that, last month, when asked about his failure to make the disclosure, Minister Trotman was flippant in saying that he ‘did not know why Exxon had not released the names’ of the local companies it engaged. It is only over the past several days that Guyanese became aware that Minister Trotman was, in fact, in possession of the information,” said Jagdeo.
The politician continued, “I feel firmly that his hiding behind the Chairman of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources is another excuse for not making the information public. It is a flimsy excuse and it exposes his reluctance to act. There is nothing stopping his release of the names of the local companies. I wish to repeat my call for the list of 309 local companies used by ExxonMobil in 2017 and the 227 used during the first quarter of 2018 to be released.”
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