May 03, 2020 News
– Says nation is already too weak, vulnerable and exploited by sharks
By Kiana Wilburg
As the Department of Energy considers applications for a marketer of the Guyana’s share of the Stabroek Block oil, there should be no secret talks, no hesitation to keep information out of the public’s eye, and no resistance to revealing background information on the people playing a key role in selecting the successful applicant.
This view was the essence of the commentary recently shared by international petroleum sector consultant, Dr. Jan Mangal during an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News. According to the former Presidential Advisor, Guyana must demand that transparency is the benchmark of every effort to pursue a crude oil marketer for Guyana’s share of profit oil. Otherwise, the state could find itself on a disastrous precipice.
To date, there have been 34 applicants to call for companies to market the oil, but all efforts to ascertain the identities of the key persons selected to evaluate the bids, as well as those of the consultants that may be providing guidance along the way, have been futile. The National Procurement and Tender Administration (NPTAB) for example, has categorically told this newspaper that it would not be answering questions regarding the tender while suggesting that the procuring entity, the Energy Department, be made to do so. Kaieteur News did ask the Energy Department for answers on same since Monday last but was asked to be patient until a press conference is held. This virtual meeting with the media is expected to occur tomorrow.
In the meantime, other commentators such as the People’s Progressive Party’s Charles Ramson Jnr., have said that given the political uncertainty, the government has no right to be searching for a crude marketer with whom it will sign a 12-month contract.
While Dr. Mangal understands this line of thinking, he told this newspaper that there is a solution.
“Whatever the political situation,” he opined, “we always need transparency. There is no excuse not to have it but the question is whether the government should be entering into any long term contracts considering the status of the government…But we also have to sell the oil so one solution is just to enter into short term contracts…”
The international consultant said that Guyana should use the operator of the Stabroek Block which is ExxonMobil, for a direct sale for now as he believes that it would be more worried about transgressing at this point than say Glencore.
Based on extensive research, Kaieteur News found that Glencore is one of the many companies with a troubling history of corruption regarding trade deals. Public documents show for example Glencore and two other major oil traders, have used intermediaries to funnel over US$31 million in bribes to corrupt Petrobras employees in order to win massive contracts, along with acquiring other benefits.
Taking this and other factors into consideration, Dr. Mangal was keen to note that the Government needs to stay away from companies that were implicated in corruption.
“You see,” he told “Guyana is weak and vulnerable and we have already been exploited by sharks, so why go and try to work with more sharks? The reason government officials work with these sharks is because of kickbacks. I am not saying that happened in Guyana but that is usually the reason in other parts of the world.”
Dr. Mangal added, “It is critical that there is transparency in this process. Let us know who are the people involved in the process because if you look at the cases of corruption with these oil deals, just giving a benefit by a fraction results in millions or tens of millions of dollars to the traders and part is paid to the officials who make the decisions and sanction these deals.”
Taking this into account, the consultant said it is critical that there be complete transparency of the process and the decision makers involved.
“Guyana is already fulfilling all the criteria of a failed oil state and having an opaque oil deal is another box we would end up ticking off if there is no transparency,” the consultant concluded.
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