Jun 21, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – According to the KN headline of June 16, “ExxonMobil throws Guyana $8.5B bill for local spending– 2019, 2020 bills yet to be audited despite two-year deadline.” In view of how everything is falling favourably into place for Exxon, it is well-positioned to claim anything paid to Guyanese businesses, ranging from roti shop to municipal market presences. As we think of this, we are not sure whether to laugh or to throw eggs.
Clearly, Exxon is sitting pretty with that $8.5B bill for local content spending for Quarter 1, 2021. At this rate, company chiefs must be grinning from ear to ear on their good fortune, since it stands to surpass the 2019 local content spending of $31.9B. We note that that $31.9B plus $24.3B in 2019 and 2020 respectively, are also inclusive of “investments to local suppliers.” Exxon has to be as happy as the proverbial cat around unattended milk, since those billions in local content bills are still to be audited.
In keeping with “Guyana’s Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with ExxonMobil and its partners, CNOOC and Hess Corporation for the Stabroek Block, the state has a two-year deadline within which to audit these costs. If that time elapses, the costs have to be accepted as correct.” We would be licking our lips too, if we were in the same situation as Exxon. For 2021 is almost half over, and the 2019 bills are still to be audited, and with a six-month expiration date hanging over Guyana’s head. This is not good; it is too tight a time window, and especially when one considers that the audit exercise would involve reviewing tens of billions in spending. Whatever the sampling strategy and approach, Guyana appears poised to own this monstrous financial baby.
As provisioned for in the PSA, should Guyana fail to audit, in a timely manner, then those billions must be honoured by us, regardless of what Exxon does or doesn’t do. As we reported to citizens, this paper “has challenged ExxonMobil many times, to provide transparent, detailed breakdowns of how the money it claims was spent” but have got little in return. In fact, “for almost six years, the company has ignored calls to provide a disaggregation of the money it claims was spent on an annual basis.” The company has refused to furnish much of anything of substance, preferring to give what is convenient to its interests, and then only in the vaguest detail.
In response to calls for specifics about who were the recipients of its local content spending, “a list was provided” which stirred more questions, than supplied any clear answers. To cut to the nitty-gritty of the games that senior managers of Exxon are playing, and how they toy with what they consider backward Guyana, when what was handed over was examined closely, the remarkable was found. It was discovered that “ExxonMobil padded its list with the names of places like Bourda Market, Haags Bosch Dumpsite, Royal Castle, Bounty Supermarket, Metro Office and Computer Supplies, Star Party Rentals, and Shanta’s Roti Shop.”
And further, that “it listed utility companies such as the Guyana Power and Light and the Guyana Revenue Authority as part of its local content efforts too.” To keep up this mockery, “persons were also listed as registered companies, including Sonia Noel, Chontelle Sewett, Andron Alphonso and Mokesh Daby.” If anything, Exxon’s people have shown some intelligence on popular places in Guyana, as well as some of the known players around. But this question surfaces: how many millions in greens and veggies (Bourda Market) and curry and dhal puri (Shanta’s Roti Shop) can Exxon spend in any given quarter or year?
Whatever it is (or isn’t), the company doesn’t miss a beat, and bills Guyana for local content spending like some mad bomber in full frenzy. Somebody must pay those bills come December 31st, and it is not our uncaring and useless political leaders. At the head of the line, the whole line itself stands Guyanese taxpayers and citizens. In terms of local content involvement, when it comes to paying Exxon’s bills, all Guyanese have a share. Now who cares around here? Want to do something about that today, or any other day?
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