In May, last, Bloomberg.com had reported that the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) was investigating the award of two oil blocks, namely the Kaieteur and Canje, offshore Guyana.
But that probe did not start in May 2018. In fact, it started more than a year prior. This was told to the media by head of SARA, Dr. Clive Thomas. It therefore means that the investigation got underway around May 2017.
However, Eric Phillips, the Special Assistant that SARA assigned to lead the oil blocks investigation, was still an active member of a company that has a pending application at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) for an offshore block.
In 2016, the African Business Roundtable Oil and Gas Exploration, of which Phillips is a co-founder, applied for a licence to explore Block C. That concession is in ultra deep waters. Neither Phillips nor any of the persons listed as beneficial owners on the application have the wherewithal or the track record for exploration in ultra-deep waters.
According to the application seen by this newspaper, the ABR beneficial owners are listed as Engineer, Charles Ceres (25%); former Guyana Goldfields Country Manager, Violet Smith (25%); Asafa George, a local businessman (25%) and Eric Phillips (15 %).
Ceres has since informed this newspaper that he is no longer part of ABR Oil and Gas. He said that he left the company last year September on his 65th birthday. But during a recorded interview with Kaieteur News, Ceres clearly stated that up to the time he was there, Phillips was most certainly an active member of the firm.
He said he could not speak for what occurred after he left, while noting that he was not even aware that the SARA official had parted ways with the firm.
Ceres revealed this same information to Kaieteur News on July 7, last, after Phillips would have authorised him to contact this newspaper and speak on his behalf.
BLOCK C FOR OPEN BID PROCESS
A few months ago, Head of the Energy Department, Dr. Mark Bynoe, had said that Guyana may be ready for a next licensing round of its offshore blocks, come the first quarter of 2020.
Dr. Bynoe had said that the licensing round, which will involve Block C is likely to be subjected to an open bid process.
Dr. Bynoe had noted however that he would not want to go forward with the licensing round with Guyana’s old laws. He insisted that the Principal Act, being the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, needs to be reviewed, with the necessary amendments passed by the National Assembly.
Furthermore, Dr. Bynoe revealed that his Department is slated to complete a gap analysis of existing legislation. He said that this gap analysis and the reviewed Principal Act will set a strong foundation of transparency and accountability for the licensing round that would follow.
He said, too, that it will allow for the Department to draft any replacement or supplementary law that it might need for the sector.
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