Guyanese legislators to consider Commission to collect oil revenues

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Guyana's Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, presenting the Petroleum Commission of Guyana Bill on May 8 to the National Assembly of Guyana

Guyana today moved one step closer to tightening its legislative regime governing the oil and gas sector, when Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, presented to the National Assembly, the Petroleum Commission of Guyana Bill 2017–to provide for the establishment and functions of the Petroleum Commission of Guyana; an agency that will also be tasked with the collection of oil revenues for the country.

With the creation of a Petroleum Commission, that body will be responsible for the collection and recovery of all rents, fees, royalties, penalties, levies, tolls and any other charges payable under the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act… and any other revenues of the Commission.

The proposed law presented today by Mr. Trotman envisages a petroleum commission that will promote interests in exploration, development, and production of petroleum in Guyana.

Mr. Trotman, in presenting the landmark piece of legislation, indicated to the Members of Guyana’s National Assembly and Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, that government intends to signal a date for the second reading of the Bill after which it is the intention of the administration to have the matter referred to a Special Select Committee.

Under the Petroleum Act—when assented to by Guyanese President, David Granger—the petroleum commission will be headed by a Director of Petroleum, effectively the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the entity.

Among the functions of the Petroleum Commission will be to promote, monitor and regulate the efficient, safe, effective and environmentally sustainable exploration, development and production of petroleum in Guyana.

The Commission will also review and recommend to the Minister of Natural Resources for approval, amendment or rejection of the plans, proposals, reports, analysis, data and any other information submitted by an applicant or licensee in support of an application for the granting or renewal of a petroleum prospecting licence and/or a petroleum production licence.

That unit will also be tasked with monitoring and ensuring compliance with national policies, laws, regulations and agreements related to petroleum operations.

The legislation—drafted with assistance from international partners such as the Commonwealth Association—will empower the commission to ensure that contractors, subcontractors and other persons involved in petroleum activities comply with all applicable laws. It will focus on compliance with health, safety and environmental standards in petroleum operations in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and agreements.

As it relates to the continued exploration of Guyana’s ‘black gold,’ the Commission will be tasked with the enforcement of the conditions of exploration and production leases, concessions or exclusive permissions, or any licence, permit or production sharing or joint venture agreement entered into or deemed to be granted or entered into under the Petroleum Exploration and Production laws.

Among the safeguards built into the proposed Bill, persons shall be disqualified from membership of the Board of Directors of the Petroleum Commission if that person holds directly, shares or other shares or other beneficial interests in any entity operating in or providing services to the petroleum sector, or is a member of the board or an employee of a licensee, among other provisions.