Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Local consortium, foreign auditors team up to audit Exxon’s 2018-2020 costs

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Guyana’s Ministry of Natural Resources has hired a group of firms, for a four-month period, to audit the costs of the Exxon-led Stabroek Block consortium for the period 2018-2020.

A local consortium was hired, consisting of Ramdihal and Haynes Chartered Accounting and Professional Services Firm, Vitality Accounting and Consultancy Inc., and Eclisar Financial & Professional Services.

They will be partnering with the Oklahoma-based Martindale Consultants Inc. and the Swiss technical company, SGS, which is leading the project.

The value of the contract is US$751,000.

Announcing the signing during a local content workshop held at Duke Lodge on Tuesday, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat said there have been comments to the effect that the government decided not to conduct cost audits of Exxon’s operations, which he said are not true.

“It would have been easier for us to recruit an international company one year ago and say [to] audit ExxonMobil.”

However, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo had said that the government held off the audits because it wanted to make sure locals got the opportunity to participate, consistent with the administration’s local content movement.

Further buttressing the local content effort, Bharrat revealed that the contract signed on Tuesday also includes provisions for knowledge transfer. It will allow for local accountants and auditors to be trained by their foreign counterparts, so that one day, local auditors can solely conduct oil sector cost audits.

Speaking on behalf of the local consortium, businessman and Professor Dr. Floyd Haynes said, “Our job is to verify the legitimacy and validity of claimed costs. If there are costs that are questioned, that is brought to the attention of the Ministry and it is adjudicated, the results of which will be made public.”

He said that some comments being made in the media demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the issue. While there is a notion that Exxon owes Guyana millions of dollars, he said he wanted to temper those expectations – “You really can’t know that until the audit has been performed.”

He thanked the Ministry for showing confidence and faith in the local consortium.

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