By Kiana Wilburg
UK-based firm, Bayphase Oil and Gas Consultants, is a client of ExxonMobil. But this did not preclude it from winning a contract from Guyana to review its employer’s Field Development Plans (FDPs).
In light of the relationship between the British firm and its American employer, international advisors are recommending that Bayphase and even the Government of Guyana demonstrate that there is no conflict of interest. They also call on both parties to show that the public’s interest is not at risk.
Specifically making these and other comments during an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News is Daniel Mulé, Senior Policy Advisor at Oxfam America. The entity is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations, which seek to fight some of the factors that lead to poverty, one of them being the poor governance of extractive wealth.
Kaieteur News asked Mulé if citizens and civil society groups have any reason to be concerned if “independent firms and or experts” who worked for oil companies or are still clients of those oil companies, are hired to represent the interests of the country.
The Senior Policy Advisor said, “While independent firms or experts may bring significant experience and expertise from past experience with international oil companies and/or governments, certainly there is a potential risk of conflict of interest if the client’s relationship is ongoing with two parties who may have disparate and potentially opposing interests.”
Mulé added, “Where there is an appearance of potential risks of conflict of interest, parties should disclose the prior or current relationships so that the other parties consider whether any fiduciary duties will be at risk if the client’s relationship continues. Government and the firm should also demonstrate that there is not a conflict of interest and that the public’s interest is not at risk.”
The international policy advisor said Oxfam often encourages greater transparency and disclosure so that citizens have all the information to hold their governments accountable. “It is often in the public’s interest to disclose more rather than less,” expressed Mulé.
While the Government may be eager to hire international firms to provide much needed advice and expertise on managing the nascent oil sector, Oil and Gas Consultant and former Advisor to the Government, Dr. Jan Mangal, had said that extreme caution must be exercised.
In fact, the Petroleum Consultant had stressed that Guyana should not hire any company over which American oil major, ExxonMobil, has significant influence or the authorities would need to have mitigation measures in place to counter potential biases and sway.
Bayphase which was established in 1986 is not only a client of ExxonMobil, it is also contracted by NEXEN, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). CNOOC holds 25 percent interest in the Stabroek Block.
Bayphase also works for Exxon’s subcontractors which include Schlumberger and Technip FMC. (See link for full list of clients: http://www.bayphase.com/clients-list2.php)
Further to this, none of its reports are unflattering to its clients. (See link to view their published reports: http://www.bayphasedata.com/reports.php)
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