Guyana’s State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) is not yet providing any information on a Bloomberg report published on Wednesday in which the head of the agency is quoted as saying a probe is underway regarding the award of offshore oil blocks.
According to the Bloomberg report, the Stabroek, Kaieteur, Orinduik and Canje blocks will be part of the inquiry.
The report cites Director of SARA, Professor Clive Thomas, as saying, “We’re building up a case. This is an area of investigation into how the blocks were allocated and the decisions that were made.” Thomas, according to the article, added, “We’re at an investigatory stage so we can’t libel persons by saying that we found proof of anything but there’s enough evidence for us to want to continue the investigation.”
The report said that neither ExxonMobil nor Tullow has been singled out as targets in the probe nor have they been accused of any wrongdoing. The article said the probe stems from the notion that the oil blocks offshore Guyana were allegedly sold off cheaply and without due process.
When contacted by OilNOW on Wednesday, a SARA official said the agency “cannot confirm nor deny” the report put out by Bloomberg.
The Stabroek, Kaieteur and Canje blocks were awarded under the previous government in Guyana, while in 2016 the current administration signed a Petroleum Prospecting License and Production Sharing Agreement, under similar terms and conditions, with the joint venture team of Tullow Guyana B.V. and Eco (Atlantic) Guyana Inc. for the Orinduik Block. Farm-ins on these blocks were also executed under the current administration.
Vice Chairman of Guyana’s Private Sector Commission, Deodat Indar, told OilNOW that the comments from SARA, as reported by Bloomberg, sends a worrying signal to investors and the international community.
“These types of comments could have extremely negative effects on the reputation of companies, particularly in the absence of any evidence of wrong-doing. It further erodes the residue of investor confidence that remains in Guyana,” he said.
Indar, who is also the former President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), said if there was indeed wrongdoing, “the responsible approach would be to first establish this, then make a pronouncement, since doing the reverse creates unnecessary speculation and uncertainty, which is harmful to investment and the business climate.”