Guyana gov’t says no illegalities or nefarious objectives guided approval of Liza Phase-1 billion-plus barrel development

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Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources MNR said on Friday afternoon that the decision to move ahead with the Liza Phase 1 development project – set to rake in an estimated 7 billion US dollars over its lifetime – was not guided by illegalities or nefarious objectives.

In a statement, MNR said it was given the strict responsibility of ensuring ‘first oil’ production by 2020 and that was the preeminent objective over the past three years; whilst working with other Ministries that had specific mandates to ensure that the timeline was kept. “The Officers at the Ministry did their best within their capabilities, capacities and available resources,” the statement said.

In coming to a decision, the ministry said at every step of the way it relied on guidance and advice from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), and the external contractors retained by that entity, to guide on each such step. Additionally, the Ministry sought and obtained Cabinet’s unanimous approval for each decision made.
OilNOW understands that the international companies were Worley Parsons and it’s subsidiary Intecsea.

Further to that, the Ministry said it is not legally imbued with regulatory powers and relies on the semi-autonomous agencies within its remit to provide advice and recommendations when decisions such as the one now being challenged are to be made. “In the instance of the Development Plan, the GGMC indicated that it lacked the capacities to review the Development Plan for Liza Phase 1, and as such recommended, and Cabinet approved, the retention of an international firm, which eventually advised GGMC that the Development Plan was well within the international standards for a project of this nature. Consequently, based on the recommendation of GGMC, the Development Plan was approved,” MNR said.

The Ministry and GGMC sought to ensure that in achieving the objective of ‘first oil’ by 2020, overall and international best practices were observed. “Though it may be difficult for some to see presently, the nation will, in the near future, realise, and come to know, that no funds were misappropriated and that no illegality or nefarious objective guided our decision-making at the Ministry of Natural Resources,” the statement further added.

The Government of Guyana announced on June 15, 2017 that it had approved the ExxonMobil Liza Phase 1 development plan and had issued a Production License to ExxonMobil affiliate, ESSO Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. The development plan includes completion of a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel designed to produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day.