Former President Donald Ramotar and former Minster of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, are said to be two of the key players in the 2015 award of the Kaieteur and Canje oil blocks to three inexperienced firms– Ratio Energy, Ratio Guyana and Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas Inc.
Those oil blocks are strategically located next to the Stabroek Block which holds over 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent reserves. Stabroek is operated by ExxonMobil.
The State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) is investigating award of the Canje and Kaieteur blocks as it has reasonable grounds to believe that it occurred under suspicious circumstances.It is believed that Ramotar knew ExxonMobil had discovered oil before the May 2015 general elections and hurriedly signed away the blocks contiguous to the Stabroek Block to the three inexperienced firms.
The companies which received the blocks never existed before 2013 and never independently explored for oil in any corner of the earth.
SARA wants to know why the former President would act in such a manner. It is hoping to learn, among other things, if there is any connection between the key players involved in the giveaway and the beneficial owners of the three industry unknowns.
Both Persaud and Ramotar have maintained their innocence. Ramotar claimed he acted on the advice of his former Minister who made several appeals on the grounds that the persons behind Mid-Atlantic and Ratio are patriots and have the ability to bring in the relevant industry experts.
Persaud, on the other hand, is claiming that SARA’s probe is an election gimmick but still fails to say what made three industry unknowns qualify to have two blocks which together, are almost as large as the Stabroek Block.
In light of the duo’s responses in the media, Oil and Gas Consultant, Dr. Jan Mangal, said it solidifies his conclusion that there was a blatant theft of Guyana’s resources.
The former Presidential Advisor said, “If you can prove that you maximized value for the country with how you operated with these blocks then fine. But if you can’t, then you have deviated from your role.
“The excuses that Persaud and Ramotar have been in negotiations with these people for a long time, that the people behind Mid-Atlantic are good people and they have experience in the industry and so forth are all irrelevant…The theft is blatant. There can be no justification for giving away our wealth for peanuts.”
Dr. Mangal on his Facebook page noted that when it comes to SARA’s probe of the oil blocks, there are a few questions all Guyanese should want answered.
How much was paid for the acreage? To whom was it paid? When was it paid? Who are the beneficial individual equity owners of all of the involved entities, and from award till now? And how were they chosen to receive the property which was previously the property of all Guyanese citizens?
Dr. Mangal said, “These are not the most important but they are some key questions. The main question remains how can the decision to award these blocks to companies with no experience be the best decision for Guyana? It is obviously not and the officials at the time knew it was not…”
Dr. Mangal insists that Guyanese need to wake up and the government needs to rescind these blocks now.
CANJE BLOCK OPERATORS
The company to which former President Donald Ramotar signed away the Canje Block was Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas. Then JHI Associates Inc. farmed in (or bought in) right after. The block was awarded on March 4, 2015 to Mid-Atlantic.
JHI was only registered in Guyana on May 4, and it bought into the block on May 15. It seems JHI was created from nothing, as its archived website only started working and listing managers, including John Cullen, on June 10. The general election was on May 11, 2015.
According to documents held by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Secretariat, JHI was only incorporated on June 17, 2015, in the British Virgin Islands. This nation is under no obligation to provide countries like Guyana with tax information of companies registered there.
And even though Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas was incorporated here on April 8, 2013, both companies were in one-on-one negotiations with the PPP government for the oil block one month before, that is, March 2013.
This means that the individuals behind the companies were asking for oil blocks without having a company being formed as yet.
What is also significant to note, is that the Canje block is the only asset that these two companies have to date. Additionally, JHI and Mid-Atlantic, which participated in Guyana’s EITI reporting process, failed to submit their audited financial statements for review.
JHI also failed to submit information on its beneficial owners. The EITI report lists Kamal Dookie as the beneficial owner of Mid-Atlantic.
THE KAIETEUR BLOCK
Ramotar awarded the Kaieteur Block to Ratio Energy Limited and Ratio Guyana on April 28, 2015. Both companies are registered at the same offices in Prashad Nagar and Gibraltar, Israel.
Ratio Guyana does not have a website, but on the Kaieteur Block’s Production Sharing Agreement (PSA), a Ryan Pereira is signed on as the Company Secretary, Director and General Partner of the company.
It also should be noted that Mr. Ryan Pereira is a long-time miner in Guyana with no track record in oil. Yet, the last government awarded him (Cataleya Energy) 50% of the block.
He recently funded a project in the Rupununi for the Ministry of Natural Resources. He seems to have a close working relationship with past and present Ministry officials.
The Ratio duo’s only asset remains the Kaieteur Block. Not a trace of evidence can be found to prove that it has years of experience in the exploration of oil and gas. (See link for PSA: https://resourcecontracts.org/contract/ocds-591adf-2701587320/view#/pdf)
Ratio Energy, which also calls itself Ratio Petroleum is chaired by Ligad Rotlevy. With the Kaieteur Block in hand in 2015, this Israeli company was able to capture three other blocks.
In 2017, it was able to acquire rights in Suriname’s basin, specifically for Block 47. In June 2016, Ratio Petroleum was granted a licence to operate in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Ireland.
In October 2018, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and Ratio entered into a Production Sharing Agreement, for oil exploration in an offshore section of Philippines continental shelf, known as SC 76.
But Ratio does not have a track record of producing any oil in deep water or anywhere, nor does it have the required assets to do so.
Of its four assets, Guyana’s Kaieteur Block is its largest. (See website link for more information: https://www.ratiopetroleum.com/en/about/ratio-petroleum/)
This newspaper understands that the Kaieteur Block operators did not submit their audited financial statements and documents regarding beneficial ownership for Guyana’s EITI report. The dates of incorporation for the two Kaieteur Block operators were also not provided to EITI. (See link for full report: https://gyeiti.org/wp-content/uploads/FinalGYEITIReport-FY2017.pdf).
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