Vice President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, said on Monday the government does not see the Payara Development project as a ‘make or break’ as it relates to benefits that would accrue to the South American country from its multi-billion barrel oil and gas resources.
Mr. Jagdeo, speaking at a joint press conference with President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali, said the new administration sees the Payara development as part of a continuum. “Exxon is not going to disappear tomorrow,” he said, pointing out that Payara is not the only development from which the government has an opportunity to ensure benefits are derived for the country.
“There are numerous opportunities in this continuum. This is not a one-event activity where Payara will determine all of our relationship or determine all of our negotiating positions or opportunities,” he stated.
He pointed out that there will be other opportunities surrounding key matters such as local content and development of natural gas and how it will benefit Guyanese.
“We have to talk also about training opportunities. We made that clear that Exxon has to do more for training of Guyanese,” He said. “We have to aggressively pursue cost of the company because so far, they’ve not completed the audit of a cent of the cost. Even pre-production cost…So I don’t see this, and the government does not see this as Payara is the make or break.”
As such, Mr. Jagdeo reiterated that the Payara project will not determine all the government’s positions in the ongoing negotiations, pointing out that when discussions started, around 40 issues were on the table and this has since been reduced to about seven.
Questioned as to whether the Payara development would be allowed to go forward given the environmental concerns which have been raised, such as flaring in the case of Liza Phase 1, President Ali said, “I have asked the Vice President and the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, to look at this on a daily basis and to advise me.”
Both the President and Vice President have said that while the new administration will be looking to ensure that benefits to Guyanese are maximized and environmental concerns are addressed, moving forward with oil and gas developments are key to the administration’s future development goals.