Trinidad and Tobago (TT) Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley told an audience in Marabella on Tuesday evening that an agreement soon to be signed between the twin-island republic and Guyana will open the pathway for TT companies to benefit from the emerging petroleum industry in the South American country.
The Prime Minister was at the time responding to an earlier suggestion by the country’s Opposition Leader for the TT government to source oil from Guyana in order to avert the closure of the Petrotrin refinery.
Dr. Rowley said he will be visiting Guyana around Wednesday, September 12 to sign the document, “which opens the way for Trinidad and Tobago’s companies to participate in that prosperity that is coming to the Guyanese, even if Guyanese oil doesn’t come to our refinery.”
The dire financial state of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, he said, makes the notion of sourcing oil from Guyana, or any other location, unfeasible since Petrotrin is billions of dollars in debt and immediate action was necessary to stop the hemorrhage.
The Prime Minister said he had previously spent a day in Guyana with the country’s Cabinet “seeking to understand what they intend to do with their new prosperity,” adding that the focus was not just on oil, “because this money is going to generate all kinds of business operations in Guyana.”
The impending agreement between the two countries comes at a time when anxiety is high in Guyana over the possibility of foreign companies entering the country and benefiting from oil and gas opportunities, to the detriment of the local business community. With the absence of local content legislation and a draft policy framework still not finalized, members of Guyana’s private sector believe that more needs to be done by government to safeguard Guyana’s interest.
President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Deodat Indar, told OilNOW in a recent interview that amendments may have to be made to sections of Guyana’s Companies Act to ensure that businesses registered to operate in the South American country have put adequate measures in place to be considered ‘local’.
Indar said in other jurisdictions residency is determined by the number of local employees a company has, the location of its head office and where board meetings are being held. “Those things are indications of where you are a resident, particularly for tax purposes. So if you work with that train of thought and apply it to Guyana to determine if a company is local, I think a lot of them that are here registered, would not fit that bill,” he pointed out
Meanwhile, Guyana’s former Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, told OilNOW on Sunday that the country’s government must consider the ramifications of entering any agreement with Trinidad and Tobago. “Hopefully, this new MoU is not being used as a ruse by TT government to promote TT domination of services in Guyana to the oil and gas sector given the failings of its own energy sector,” Persaud stated.