Dispute resolution crucial to Guyana’s ability to keep attracting investments

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The stay of execution granted by an Appellate Court Judge on a recent High Court order will go down well for Guyana’s global reputation, says Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo. The High Court’s order had compelled an ExxonMobil-led consortium to provide an unlimited parent and/or affiliate company guarantee for oil spills in the Stabroek Block.

During a press conference on Thursday, Jagdeo avoided dissecting the merits of the case. He was keen to note however that it augers well for the investment climate.

He said, “…We can’t tell the judiciary what positions to make and they must not make those decisions because of some international imperative.” That aside, he said if international investors and Guyanese can get a fair and predictable application of the law then it bodes well for their confidence in the judiciary.

“And that is all we are seeking because in a modern, sophisticated jurisdiction, dispute resolution is crucial in your ability to attract investment and have locals make investments,” the Vice President added.

He also refrained from saying whether he personally thinks it is a good or bad decision “because people will think that is what we want.”

Background

On Thursday, Appellate Court Judge, Justice Rishi Persaud granted a stay of execution on the order that was issued on May 3, 2023, by Justice Sandil Kissoon in the High Court. That order sought to compel ExxonMobil and partners to provide an unlimited parent and/or affiliate company guarantee for the Liza Phase 1 Project by June 10 or face suspension.  

Appeals were subsequently filed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Exxon’s affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL). Apart from calling for the entire judgment to be thrown out, both parties asked for a stay of the order, which could have detrimental economic consequences for EEPGL and Guyana. Taking those and other arguments into consideration, the stay was granted with a condition that a US$2 billion parent and/or affiliate company guarantee be lodged within 10 days.

Counsel for EEPGL agreed with this. Negotiations on this guarantee were recently practically completed, Jagdeo had said during a previous media conference.

The EPA is expected to initiate steps for the case to now undergo an urgent hearing before the Full Bench of the Appellate Court. 

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