Activist and Accountant, Ramon Gaskin, has shed light on the fact that, three years later, the Government of Guyana, more specifically, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, has failed to disclose the bridging agreement between Government and ExxonMobil.
The Petroleum Contract mentions the deed, for which, the purpose is to replace the 1999 Agreement and the 1999 Petroleum Prospecting Licence for the Stabroek Block. The first agreement was signed by the late Janet Jagan, in her capacity as Minister of Petroleum in 1999 and the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) currently in force was signed by Trotman in 2016.
A forum was held at the Critchlow Labour College last Thursday, where Gaskin questioned the secrecy surrounding the bridging deed.
He said that it’s not a good look that the contracts took years to be released.
“The [first agreement], I think, [was released] 17 years from 1999, and the Trotman agreement after a lot of agitation, it was eventually released.”
The 2016 PSA had only been published by Minister Trotman, over a year after it was inked, in December of 2017 after several sections of the public called for its release.
“But not all of it [was released]” Gaskin said, referring to the annexes of the contract that still have not been published.
He explained that the PSA requires confidentiality for quite a few of its aspects.
Of that, he said that there is “a lot of nonsense” going on.
“This thing belong to we!” Gaskin exclaimed, referring to the billions of barrels in Petroleum reserves already discovered offshore Guyana.
Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram had condemned Minister Trotman for not immediately revealing the PSA to the public, explaining that he had acted against Section 16(2) of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, which requires the Minister to publish notice of the agreement in The Official Gazette as soon as is practicable after the licence is granted. By failing to observe this aspect of the law, Ram had said that Trotman has set a worrying precedent.
Now, two years after the release of that PSA, Guyana awaits the release of the bridging deed. Local commentators have said that, by not releasing the bridging deed, Trotman is still in contravention of the Petroleum Act.
On Thursday, Gaskin said that no contract, arrangement or deed should be confidential. He had also, in 2018, called for the release of this document, and had said that Government has lost all moral ground to criticize anyone about secrecy.
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