Decision on contract disclosure should apply to all companies equally – British High Commissioner

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OilNow is an online-based Information and Resource Centre which serves to complement the work of all stakeholders in the oil and gas sector in Guyana.

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, says the Guyana government and oil companies will ultimately have to decide what aspects of their agreements would be disclosed but this should apply to all companies equally.

Multiple calls have been made in recent months from civil society and groups representing the business community for the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) between Guyana and US oil major, ExxonMobil, to be made public.

The South American country’s Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, told reporters at the end of November that after fully considering the matter Cabinet has made a decision to make the contract public this month – referring to the ExxonMobil PSA.

The High Commissioner said while there are certain aspects of contracts that are confidential it is important to keep restrictions to “an absolute minimum” in the interest of transparency. “Ultimately it is for the companies and the government to decide exactly what should be released and then making sure whatever is decided should actually apply to everybody equally,” he told OilNOW in a recent interview at the British High Commission in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, told OilNOW in August that the government and ExxonMobil needed to sit down and chart a way forward regarding the disclosure of information related to agreements for petroleum exploration and production. “I believe that we need to sit with each other and decide what is in our best interest because we are partners…joint development partners for the Stabroek Block; 50/50 partners so to speak, and so whatever we do must be to our mutual benefit, not just to the nation of Guyana, but also to the investors,” he said.

ExxonMobil has stressed that it is prepared to “follow the law” on contract disclosures. Such law or requirement, observers point out, should apply to all oil companies since making it mandatory for one contract to be disclosed while others remain confidential puts that particular company at a disadvantage.

“It is certainly not fair for one company to be required to do something when every other company isn’t,” Mr. Quinn pointed out.

Based on Mr. Harmon’s announcement that the contract between Guyana and ExxonMobil will be made public in December, it is expected that this move could occur sometime this week. It remains to be seen if the decision on disclosure would extend to the agreements Guyana has with several other companies searching for oil in the South American country.

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