Guyana’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, said on Friday the award of the Kaieteur and Canje blocks offshore the South American country was in keeping with the nation’s laws and that no evidence of corruption has been found to date. The Vice President’s remarks follow several reports in the media which have criticised the award of the two blocks and raised questions about the companies that were granted these licences.
According to Guyana’s petroleum laws, “No licence shall be granted to an individual, unless he is a citizen of Guyana or to a body of persons, unless it is a company; or a corporation.”
At a press conference held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on Friday, Dr. Jagdeo expressed the view that the foregoing was satisfied by former President, Donald Ramotar, who approved the awards in 2015.
The Vice President was quick to note that the award of the blocks has been in the local and international news while noting that much of it has been nothing but speculation. He stressed that not a shred of evidence has emerged to show that corruption took place in any regard.
The Vice President made these and other remarks as he was asked about his comments made during his time as Opposition Leader, to the effect that he has no issue supporting an independent probe of the Canje and Kaieteur Blocks. In this regard, Dr. Jagdeo said he has asked for internal documents to be prepared to give the government a better understanding of how the process of approval was carried out.
Dr. Jagdeo said, “So they’re working on briefs, giving me specific timelines as to when companies were incorporated, names of the individuals, when and then we know when the licences were approved. As I said before, I don’t personally have an objection to any review because I believe then and now that no corruption was involved because I know the individuals…”
The Vice President added, “…I believe it was the era when people were very liberal with the issuance of licences because we had not found oil as yet, we are very liberal in that entire era which we wouldn’t do today, because it is after oil.”
The official was keen to note that the acquisition of the internal documents along with a review of same would be the first stage. He said this will allow the government to understand whether anything untoward took place. But as far as he is aware, there was no breach of the nation’s law.
The Vice President said that the government is also making efforts to ascertain the beneficial owners of all blocks which would expose if there are any politically exposed persons involved. If this is discovered, then it becomes a matter to be probed the official said.
The Canje and Kaieteur blocks were awarded to Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas and Ratio respectively in 2015, following protracted negotiations and delays due to the October 2013 illegal seizure of the survey vessel Teknik Perdana by the Venezuelan navy. The vessel was at the time conducting seismic work for Anadarko Corporation in Guyana’s territorial waters.