Presidential Advisor on Petroleum in Guyana, Dr. Jan Mangal, believes that in the interest of transparency and accountability, all resource agreements, including the petroleum contract between ExxonMobil and the South American country, should be made public.
In an interview with media representatives on Wednesday at State House, Georgetown, Guyana, Dr. Mangal said his Terms of Reference has, as a key item, the matter of transparency. “…I believe all resource contracts should be made public, not only petroleum; diamond, gold, timber. These are all resources of the people…in the long-term that is what will help Guyana.”
Over the past several months a number of stakeholders have been calling for the full disclosure of the terms outlined in the Production Sharing Agreement between ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Limited and the Government of Guyana.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, has said considerations surrounding an impending court matter to settle an ongoing territorial claim by Guyana’s western neighbor, Venezuela, requires that details of the agreement remain private. This, Mr. Trotman has pointed out, is based on legal advise the Guyana government has received.
ExxonMobil for its part has indicated that it is prepared to follow the law on contract disclosures.
Political analyst Christopher Ram, in a recent publication, said the Guyana government may also have received a signing bonus to the tune of US$20M when a new agreement was inked in 2016. “The Government of Guyana used the excuse of a new licence to extract a signature bonus, a payment made by a contractor on the signing of an Agreement to take up any given number of blocks. The figure I have been told is twenty million United States dollars,” Ram said in an October 27 blog.
While the Guyana government has not responded to this claim to date, Dr. Mangal said, “The signing bonus, if paid, needs to be made public. It needs to be auditable. People need to have confidence in their representatives and the way to do that is transparency.”
However, he said he has no doubt in his mind that Government will ultimately release details of agreements made.
“I believe ultimately it will happen, it will take some time. If you look around the world, people are usually reluctant to give out information because they feel they might be criticized,” he stated.
Additionally, he stressed that if civil society and the people continuously push for the contract to be released, it will be done at a faster rate.