Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Opposition moves to Parliament for answers on government’s failure to audit US$9B Liza 1 & 2 projects

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Guyana’s political opposition has moved to Parliament with a list of questions it hopes would allow it to better understand why the government has not yet completed the audit of ExxonMobil’s Liza Phase 1 and 2 projects which total approximately US$9B.

The questions were submitted by the Alliance For Change’s (AFC) Executive Member and Shadow Minister for the Petroleum Industry, David Patterson.

The politician wants the Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat to provide the names of all the persons, firms and companies who submitted bids to perform the audit of the Liza projects as well as specific reasons why each was not successful. Patterson is also interested in learning if and why the tender evaluation for the auditors was discontinued and by whom.

Further to this, he has asked that the Minister state if ExxonMobil has been approached by an agent of the government to request an extension to audit its US$9B expenses. Patterson said the correspondence in this regard should be supplied to the National Assembly while adding that ExxonMobil’s response to this request should be provided too.

In addition to the audit of the Liza Phase 1 and 2 costs, Patterson has asked the Minister to state if the audit of ExxonMobil’s US$460M pre-contract costs has been completed and for a copy of same be tabled in the National Assembly for perusal.

The natural resources minister is also being asked to say if Budget 2021 includes allocations to cover the foregoing audits. If this is so, Patterson wants him to disclose the exact amount.

With respect to the government’s failure to conduct the audits, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently disclosed that the administration is disappointed with this state of affairs. He said too that none of the companies which indicated interest was successful as it was felt that enough local content was not present in the bids.

Dr. Jagdeo said, “We have been very disappointed that we have not been able to select a group to do the audit of the post-2017 expenditure by Exxon. The reason is that we didn’t have strong local content. We had two groups, two local groups that came in, but they were not strong enough. We want to build the capacity in Guyana to do this audit.”

The Vice President continued, “We think that our people have enormous skills, forensic skills and auditing and we’re looking to see if we can’t have an arrangement where we have a consortium for our local people to come together to do part of this work; partnering with a local company so that we can build capacity right here in Guyana…”

Dr. Jagdeo said he has since asked Mr. Bharrat to see if the government can get together all of the groups from Guyana that have expressed interest in this undertaking and to see how they can partner with a foreign company to get it done.

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