It is eye-opening and jaw dropping, as well as revealing how the ExxonMobil(s) of the world conduct their business with host nations, with Guyana being just the latest example. In terms of what was just blandly announced by a senior Hess official at a conference in Miami, Florida, it was downright embarrassing.
If this is the way that ExxonMobil (and Hess and the rest) intends to conduct its oil business affairs in Guyana, then the towel might as well be thrown in right now, as the writing on the wall could not be clearer or its embedded messages not relayed any louder.
From the perspective of this publication, what unfolded in Miami during the ‘remarks and dialogue’ session at the 2019 Global Energy Conference, through the words of Mr. John Hess, Chief Executive Officer of Hess Corporation, is unpardonable and reflective of the startling disdain and emerging arrogance of the oil principals present in Guyana.
As is well known, this paper has been unrelenting and unsparing in its coverage of what it considers the demeaning terms of the oil contract starting with the insulting two per cent cut for Guyana, and continuing with all of the ancillary provisions that add to the financial haemorrhages inflicted on this country.
The smug, condescending tone and words of Mr. Hess of conversations with the political powers, namely both incumbent government and current opposition for the go-ahead for a third oil field, say so much about how ExxonMobil and partners plan to do their business here.
First, go through the motions and the politesse of dealing with the public service entities and ranking bureaucrats, in this instance the local Department of Energy. Second, when there is the equivalent of, to use traffic parlance a “prepare to stop” signal or, more jarring still, “road block” ahead, the foreign oil men withdraw first to weigh the implications of the decisions shared by senior Guyanese officials.
Third, finalize the best options on how to proceed, which usually mean taking matter in their hands, through resorting via ready escalation to the political bosses to interfere with and override the decisions taken at the expert level.
And this was what Mr. Hess, whose company is a 40% stakeholder in the ExxonMobil oil consortium in impoverished, dependent, and disadvantaged Guyana took great pride in announcing to the world over there in Miami.
He couldn’t have chosen a more open forum to drag this country through the mud. In sum, we will get our way, because we have the political trump cards.
Clearly, the oil men feel that the rules do not apply to them. Also, this is an early indication that they have little or no regard for the oversight actions of the local Department of Energy officials. It is not a comforting place in which this country now finds itself, when the prudent restraining hands of the Department of Energy is rendered ineffective, if not altogether amputated in such degrading public fashion.
It is as if that state agency does not matter at all. Because, when moreover, the ExxonMobil(s) operating in the Guyanese oil basin are confident that they have, ON THE MAJOR POLITICAL FRONTS, open political doors, ready and listening political ears, and cooperating political minds, with the superseding directives to follow, then what do we have to manage and bring some degree of conscientious stewardship to the oil wealth of this nation? We have nothing.
Today it is the hapless, hollowed out Department of Energy. Cast a wider net and the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana, could be among the prime targets next. Already ExxonMobil, through Hess, not only leaves a massive footprint and a giant shadow, it also wields the biggest of big sticks, as the Department of Energy should be able to testify.
If John Hess’s assertion holds, it says a mouthful and an earful (both unacceptable) about the manner in which both of these two political groups intend to manage and serve as reputable and responsible overseers over the mineral resource gifts of this country.
And if the foreign oil players could authoritatively tell their shareholders, the media, and the world what is tantamount to ‘no need to worry, everything is under control, and the right people are in the bag’, then hopeful Guyanese might as well kiss goodbye to the dreams of sharing in a piece of the oil action.
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