Guyana finalizing ExxonMobil production license; public disclosure on agreement likely

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Raphael Trotman , Minister of Natural Resources

Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said today that government is in the process of finalising ExxonMobil’s production license and will be “making some pronouncements in the next few weeks.”

Mr. Trotman made the announcement to stakeholders at a capacity-building symposium for the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI), at the Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown today.   

“Government has received an application for a production license to be issued to ExxonMobil. We are finalising that process, and will be making some pronouncements in the next few weeks,” he said, according to a GINA/DPI statement.

The existing contract is a 50-50 partnership Production Sharing Agreement (PSA). Exxon and its partners will be allowed to recover the cost invested in the offshore production before the equal sharing of the profit oil.

The government had undertaken a review of the contract which dates back to 1999. Minister Trotman had indicated that the review was to update the contract since a number of factors would have changed since the period during which the document was signed.

There have been various calls in the local media for full disclosure of the contract between the government and ExxonMobil and its partners. The Minister had indicated earlier this year that the government does not believe full disclosure would be in the national interest. He however told members of the business community on April 26 that he agrees that “as much information about the agreement as possible, should be made public.”

At the time, he was speaking at a forum held at the Umana Yana, in Georgetown, Guyana.

“Government is considering how and when and to what degree (details of the profit sharing agreement would be released) and we of course have to work with Exxon,” Mr. Trotman had said.

Kimberly Johnson Brasington, Senior Director, Public & Government Affairs at ExxonMobil, Guyana, told OilNOW on Monday in an invited comment, “I can assure you that we are working with the government and do plan to make good on that statement by the minister…”

Today, Minister Trotman noted that signing onto initiatives like the EITI standard is part of building trust and better relationships as the country develops its oil and gas sector.

“I know there is a natural suspicion that governments are always up to something bad, something suspicious, (and) something that is unholy and unhealthy. But it is comforting to know that government has partners in both the industry and civil society to hold its hand, to hold their hands, so that together we can develop our resources in the best possible manner,” he said.

EITI is an international standard that seeks to provide consolidated information on a country’s extractive sector. It aims to reconcile key revenue flows paid by companies with those received by government and assesses how the revenues are expended on behalf of the people. Guyana is hoping to become part of the EITI by year end.