With there being no legal constraints in the way, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo is of the view that a Guyanese consortium should have a chance to participate in the imminent oil blocks bid round which will now be held before the close of the year.
The former Head of State made this position known at a press conference on Friday at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC) on the outskirts of Georgetown. There, he was asked if government considered the participation of locals in the auction and what criteria would be set for them.
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The official said this is an important factor but could not state what Cabinet’s position was at the time. The Vice President said his view however is that locals should be given a chance to see if they can attract the requisite capital, provide the country with better fiscal terms, and still make a profit.
“I don’t know what Cabinet decision would be, but I would say let’s give them a chance,” said Dr. Jagdeo.
He further noted that the objective of the auction is to break the concentration of the offshore acreage with one group of oil majors. If locals are allowed to participate, he said controls would have to be considered to prevent major players from farming into the blocks, should this be the policy decision that is taken down the road.
The Vice President said he is nonetheless cautious about the criticisms that would follow, should locals be involved. He said some sections of the media have engaged over the years in an attack on locals who were awarded the Kaieteur and Canje oil blocks. Jagdeo said certain elements may very well accuse the government of trying to set the stage for the enrichment of a few. The government is nonetheless interested in a debate on the pros and cons of Guyanese participation in the auction.
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In the meantime, a number of matters are still being ironed out for the bid round, the official said. In this regard, he noted matters are being carefully considered pertaining to the size of the potential blocks, the participation of Exxon and other majors, the use of a strategic partner via a National Oil Company, and what the country’s fiscal take would be, while allowing for the investors to make a profit.
The Vice President said a decision on these and other matters will be forthcoming by the end of this month.