When a discovery is made, one of the next crucial steps for an oil company involves defining a Field Development Plan (FDP). This document provides crucial information about the geology of the field, the commerciality of the oil find, along with all the associated costs to extract and produce that oil.
While it has 14 discoveries on the Stabroek Block thus far, ExxonMobil and its partners are well on their way to producing oil from the Liza Phase One Project in a matter of days, with Liza Phase Two to follow. It was able to move ahead with its plans for oil production after it submitted FDPs for Liza One and Two, and received the subsequent stamps of approval from the local authorities.
Since giving ExxonMobil the green light however, the government is yet to make these FDPs public.
Local Content Expert, Anthony Paul has told Kaieteur News on more than one occasion that in the interest of transparency and accountability, these plans should be made public, while noting that Norway, in particular, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, publishes this type of information.
In an invited comment yesterday, University of Houston Instructor, Tom Mitro noted that he is a proponent of FDPs being made public.
He said, “…But unfortunately in most cases, they aren’t. Companies tend to argue that they contain geological or engineering data and analysis that is proprietary and could benefit competitors. But since the planned development can have such a large and wide impact, public interest should override the company concerns.”
Mitro who has over 30 years experience in the industry added, “They could always separate any competitively sensitive information if needed.”
Also in agreement with Mitro was Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram. He opined that if the FDPs have proprietary information then indeed, he can see how this would be an issue for the companies as well as the government. Ram noted nonetheless, “But I don’t see how it can (have proprietary information). I do believe that these plans should be made public. The government should be insisting on it and the people should be demanding it, because it has environmental implications while giving you an idea of the costs.”
Kaieteur News tried making contact with Head of the Energy Department, Dr. Mark Bynoe for an explanation on why the plans have not been released, but those efforts were in vein.
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