Sep 26, 2022 Letters
I quote from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Statute finalized in September 1960 in Baghdad, Iraq. Article 2, section 3 reads as follows: “Due regard shall be given at all times to the interests of the oil producing nations and to the necessity of securing a steady income to the producing countries; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to the consuming nations; and a fair return on their capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.”
It is interesting that the first priority of the five original signatory countries-Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela – was “the necessity of securing a steady income to the producing countries…” was for themselves, the first members of OPEC. All of those countries have come in for castigation and cursing in the decades since, with coups, wars, unrest, destabilisation, and other forms of pressure and sabotage relentlessly piled upon them by Western powers acting alone, or in some combination, to undermine that paramount first objective. It was an objective that was and is sacred, hence inviolable, and has weathered the storms of time, nuclear threats, volatility, self-destruction, treachery, and an endless litany of assaults at undermining that prime objective of the OPEC countries, which was looking out for, and looking after, their own people first and foremost. At the risk of sacrilege, I would contend that it has been as unchanging as the will of the divine itself. I point out for edification what is the third objective in a string of three interrelated ones: “a fair return on their capital to those investing in the petroleum industry.”
Compare that to what goes in the head, as evidenced in his words, of Guyana’s Vice President, as repeated more than once in different forums. On each occasion that he opens his mouth to answer questions about better for Guyana, his first words have been words to the effect that ‘there must be a return to those investing in the oil industry that is commensurate with their risks…’ and then later on that ‘Guyana must benefit from its oil wealth.’ I agree completely that any company investing in Guyana’s oil sector/industry/business should and must get a return that compensates for the risks and so forth. There should be no discussion on that, no pushback at all.
Where I depart from the Hon. Vice President, and have serious trouble, is with this. Why is he always putting the returns of oil companies before the oil rewards to the Guyanese people? Why is the return of the investors such a redline, high intensity priority for him? Why are the interests of Guyana not the first thing flashing uncontrollably in his mind, the first syllables out of his mouth? Or in the words of the OPEC objective “Due regard shall be given at all times to the interests of the oil producing nations…” I repeat to highlight, shine the brightest spotlight: at all times the interests of Guyana (our oil producing nation), so that it is assured of the proper income acceptable to it.
America’s Exxon (and others of its ilk) does not need Guyana’s Vice President to be its chief lobbyist, its loudest advocate, its silkiest tribune. No, it can do that for itself and partners, and it is unbeatable in fighting its own income and profit battles. There is none more rapacious and ruthless, and relentless when returns are involved. And, if the Vice President desires to represent their risks, then he doesn’t even have a clue as to where the starting line is on that, so creative and sophisticated Exxon is at inventing risks, and then foisting them on poor, backward, and compromised societies like Guyana. I humbly recommend to the Vice President that he comes to his senses, regains his balance, and reconfigures what should be his first priority. It is the return to Guyana on its oil.
Guyanese do not need a pundit from their own ranks for Exxon, they need a true patriot. Guyana could do without a powerbroker for superpower Exxon, they could use a super-patriot. I suggest that for such heroic figures the Vice President study the courage and resilience of those five founding member countries of OPEC.
Exxon has to put up a sign board across the Demerara Harbour Bridge to tell Guyanese what % of revenue we are getting from the Stabroek Block!
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