…Foreign Minister takes offence to KN questions to T&T PM
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge yesterday expressed his displeasure with the media, particularly Kaieteur News, over questions posed to Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley during an official visit here last month.
“I know that some of you were at great pains, and thought you solved Guyana’s problem, by asking the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago whether contracts could be renegotiated,” Greenidge told reporters yesterday at a press conference at the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Dr. Rowley who was here to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Energy with Guyana was asked by Kaieteur News about the renegotiation of oil contracts.
Greenidge said, “I think any fool can answer that question. The Prime Minister gave you an answer, but I think that the question that really should have been asked is what followed; whether Trinidad or anyone else has ever renegotiated a contract, and what have been the consequences as viewed by Trinidad and as viewed by the oil companies.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister stated that one can always find a question to ask that will conveniently satisfy the position from which they stand, but for that to be worthwhile as a question, one has to be able to put in place the other questions that highlight all angles of the issue.
While the Government of Trinidad and Tobago respects the “sanctity” of contracts, it does not subscribe to the notion that contracts are set in stone.
Dr. Rowley made this very point at an Energy Conference held in his country earlier this year and he repeated and expounded on them in the presence of President David Granger after the signing of the MoU.
He was asked to share how his country is going about the renegotiation of oil contracts, and how Guyana might learn from this. The T&T PM said that he would not want to give “public advice” to President Granger.
However, Dr. Rowley said, “We have respected the sanctity of contracts, while not accepting that contracts are set in stone. Contracts are engagements made between two parties and when you make contracts, if there is goodwill between the participants, and if the intention is for both participants to benefit from the nature of the contract, we see the possibility and the opportunity for the contracts being revisited, so as to maintain the balance of the elements of the contract.”
The T&T PM said that this is the basis on which his government has approached oil companies in its borders on the renegotiation of contracts.
“As I speak to you now, we are at the negotiation table, having got their acknowledgement that the contract could be looked at…Of course, both sides (are) seeking to maintain the balance that the contracts ought to have and we do this by renegotiations…”
The TT PM added, “Sometimes in negotiations, you have to point out the shortcomings of others and they might point out shortcomings on your part. (But) we have no fear in raising our dissatisfaction with the performance of certain contracts…”
The PM said that petroleum is an international business and cautioned that when one engages in it, contracts are supposed to be made to encourage and continue participation. He said, too, that contracts are supposed to be drafted in a manner that takes into account, the fact that the market will change over time.
Local commentators have long expressed concerns over the deal Guyana signed with ExxonMobil, especially when it is compared with other agreements Exxon signed onto with other nations such as Ghana.
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