Jan 23, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Scores of protestors on Saturday morning took to the streets, for a second time this week, to demand that the “oppressive” oil contracts be changed so as to benefit the citizens of Guyana. In fact, the protestors are now asking that oil production be put on hold, until United States oil giant, ExxonMobil, agrees to renegotiate its contract with Guyana.
Kaieteur News spoke to a few of the protestors who were furnished with placards and t-shirts, demanding 50 percent royalty in Guyana’s oil deal, which presently stands at a mere two percent.
It must be noted that Guyana has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, with more than 10 billion barrels of oil already discovered offshore Guyana. Nevertheless, the country also has one of the poorest royalty or interest rates for its resources.
While Guyana has accepted two percent, other countries such as neighbouring Brazil has secured as much as 15 percent royalty from its crude, according to a report from the Law Library of Congress, a global legal research directorate, published in 2015.
The report also states that Guyana’s other neighbour, Venezuela, rakes in royalty rates of 30 percent of value of crude oil extracted. The report said “the amount may be reduced to 20 percent if oil field is not otherwise economically exploitable; additional royalty in bylaws of joint ventures of 3.33 percent of value of crude oil extracted.”
Under the provisions of the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL)—ExxonMobil Guyana—and its partners, Royalty is calculated at two percent of oil that is produced and sold.
It is in this context that Guyanese have decided to protest the royalty rates they are forced to accept for the valuable resources.
Yesterday’s protest saw the support of Guyanese from as far as Berbice, Region Six, Region Three and even Region Two.
The rally commenced in Georgetown and moved along the East Bank public road and finally to the Square of the Revolution in the capital city. During the rally, citizens waved the Golden Arrowhead, Guyana’s national flag, even as they shouted for change to be effected.
As vehicles joined the protest, a few protestors seized the opportunity to air their frustrations regarding the “deal” Guyana signed with ExxonMobil.
Gary Morris, a man who lost one of his legs in an accident, told this newspaper that he needs to be respected, as well as the rest of Guyana. He feels that the contract was not only disrespectful to Guyanese, but also wholly unacceptable.
“I need my rights. We all are citizens of Guyana and nobody can’t take we oil and we ain’t getting nothing (much) out of it,” the gentleman argued. According to him, the contracts should be renegotiated so that the profits can be shared “half and half” between Guyana and Exxon.
“If them do that, you know how much they will be able to do for we Guyanese citizens? We need to get up in life, each and every one of the Guyanese people. We want we 50 percent oil money,” he added.
In this regard, the activist called on the rest of Guyana to join the protest against the “exploitative” contract. He was keen to note that the protest should continue and if Exxon refuses to change the provisions in the oil contracts, then production must cease.
Meanwhile, another protestor, who gave his name only as Anoop, said he is a resident of Stewartville, West Coast Demerara. He told this publication that ExxonMobil should be giving Guyana more than it currently is, especially since, according to him, Guyana’s fisheries sector has been tremendously impacted because of their operations.
He also made reference to the fact that ExxonMobil has not offered Guyana any insurance in the event of an oil spill, as he explained the need for more profits to benefit the country.
Carmen, from Berbice said, “we are out here because we looking for a better future for Guyana because what they (government) promised us, we don’t have, so we people in Guyana are suffering more. We have oil but it’s not benefitting the Guyanese, and we have single parents and expect more for our people.”
The woman was keen to note that she has never supported a specific political party, but stands in solidarity with the call for more benefits to Guyanese.
Devika, a protestor from Cumberland, Berbice told Kaieteur News, “We are punishing a lot because they are not giving us what we are supposed to be getting. We supposed to benefit more than what they are giving us. They are drawing so much oil from us and we aren’t getting nothing (much) from it,” she reasoned.
Just as the protestors were leaving the Square of the Revolution, ranks of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) ordered that the driver and leader of the procession head to the East La Penitence Station, pending a charge for “loud and continuous noise” due to the Public Address (PA) system that was being used during the protest.
Two KN staff members were in police custody but were subsequently released on their own recognizance.
The protest action, the second in a series, was organised by a group of patriotic Guyanese, including publisher of this newspaper, Glenn Lall, who is pushing to achieve more for the country. On Wednesday, the protestors gathered at Houston, East Bank Demerara to protest the ExxonMobil contract.
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