ExxonMobil says it did not pay for NYT reporter’s visit to Guyana

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Clifford Krauss - New York Times national energy business correspondent based in Houston, Texas.

In the aftermath of fallout from a New York Times (NYT) article on Guyana’s preparation for oil, ExxonMobil Guyana in a statement issued today said that it did not pay for the reporter to travel to the South American country to prepare the article.

“Guyana is a beautiful place with beautiful people. We are happy to have the opportunity to operate and live in the communities in Guyana. The New York Times is an independent media entity based in the United States. ExxonMobil did not pay for the reporter to travel to Guyana for this article,” the company said in a Facebook post.

It further added that its only involvement was participating in an interview with the New York Times. “ExxonMobil’s only involvement was our agreement to be interviewed and, at the request of the reporter, we offered to facilitate a tour of our contracted assets,” said the statement from ExxonMobil.

The New York Times article appeared on July 20, 2018, under the headline ‘The $20 Billion Question for Guyana’. Writer Clifford Krauss describes Guyana as a poor, underdeveloped country prone to corruption and which might fall prey to the ‘Paradox of Plenty’, or the resource curse where revenues derived from oil or other natural resources are either mismanaged or outright stolen.

Aspects of the article that described the country as having limited paved highways, school children commuting to school via dugout canoes and the capital being a ‘clapboard’ city did not sit well with Guyanese on social media. Public reaction to the article has been one of outrage based on the perception expressed by some that it paints the country and people as backwards and inept.

Guyana’s Former Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud, in a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, pondered whether there was a larger strategy afoot given the NYT article’s timing. “Are we reduced to a people standing motionless for visiting birds to fly over our heads and excrete on us?” he asked.

He also questioned why there has not been a definitive response/correction from the national entities in charge of public information and policy dissemination.

“Where are the voices and ‘experts’ who pontificate on what should and should not be done in the O&G sector? Is that the distorted image they want to be projected, internationally?” he asked.

ExxonMobil Guyana has facilitated a tour for local reporters to one of its offshore vessels in recent months and the company has increased its visibility in the public domain, with its Country Manager and Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs, regularly interacting with reporters at events.

7 COMMENTS

  1. The reporter is not quite incorrect. However he should tour the entire country. An important point to note is that Guyana was not always the way he described. It was better. However when any leader (I am making a general statement here) of any country has democracy as it’s form an decides to experiment with another type of governance.The result is shattering. This though is an eye opener for Guyana to “buck up” and start to fix its infrastructure, social and economic woes. Take the words of the reporter seriously please!!

  2. What would Robert have said in an ‘official’ government response to an independent reporter’s article that was clearly an opinion piece? This was no ‘eye-opener’. We know that the picture painted by the NYT reporter represents the way people in the highly developed first world sees Guyana, though it hurts. Thing is, our economic and social infrastructure can be changed much more quickly if our people didn’t spend so much time carping about who’s in Government, or creating tornadoes in teacups instead of sitting on their hands to wait for ‘their’ people to get into government. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

    • Hello the world is watching. There is much oil being discovered. Guyana’s infrastructure, social and economic woes needs fixing. Observe and think again. Thank you.

  3. That is fact, not fiction, or up for debate. Every single aspect of life and living in Guyana is under serious rehabilitation, and it’s an uphill process. Here’s another fact: Oil being discovered and production estimates being ramped up every time new oil is discovered means little to currently available finances. No matter how hard the world watches, our infrastructural, social and economic advancements will be realized as fast as existing finances allow. Let’s be real!

    • Yes, it is way behind and the world will always be taking notice. So early fixing
      NOW is necessary. It has being neglected for too long.

  4. Actually, to give credit where it is due, a lot is happening in terms of fixing old broken systems, and much of it is not immediately visible to the public. WRT national infrastructure, and it’s just extremely unfortunately that the Linden/Lethem corridor caved in this particular rainy season. I have a gift for you: find a poignant and very funny reply to the NYT article that’s titled: “Guyana and Exxon: A Love Story in the Watery Wilderness”. It will make your day.

  5. Is not Guyana a land of many waters? Guyana does not have water shortage like most places. Looking at the geographical layout of Guyana. It would look very beautiful when it is properly fixed.

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