Former oil minister’s book on Stabroek Block PSA will have no effect on gov’t policy position – Jagdeo 

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While Guyana’s former Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman is now expressing support for a renegotiation of the Stabroek Block Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) which governs one of the world’s largest oil fields, the contract will remain intact. This position was once again made clear by the country’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

The country’s chief policy maker said on Thursday that the administration agrees that there are provisions in the contract which are more in favour of the ExxonMobil-led consortium operating the oil-rich concession. Be that as it may, he said other mechanisms are being applied to claw back significant value such as the implementation of the Local Content Law and the imminent gas-to-energy project. 

Jagdeo insisted that the government will not be moved from this position, even though the latest voice to be added to the call for renegotiation is the man who signed the contract back in 2016. 

In his book titled, “From Destiny to Prosperity” and published June 2, 2023, Trotman chronicles the tenure of his service as Minister of Governance and Natural Resources during the period 2015 to 2020 with a particular focus on decisions made regarding the Stabroek Block PSA and other oil-related issues. 

In the 230-page publication, Trotman disclosed that he is in favour of a better deal, if the government wishes. He said, “The demand for renegotiation of the Exxon contract continues unabated, and my own view is that no contract is inviolable, and therefore, it can be renegotiated. However, I can’t support a renegotiation based on some ‘fraud’ which never occurred. Undoubtedly, if Guyana, as a sovereign state, wishes to renegotiate the contract to get ‘better’ terms then I would support such an initiative.”

Such a position would represent a complete 360 degree turn from his standing back in 2016 when the contract was signed. Trotman at that time strongly supported the deal, noting that it was in Guyana’s favour and an improvement on the original 1999 PSA.

“…if someone goes on your mining lands and agrees to pay 5% royalties and there is a bigger find of gold that was expected you can’t turn around and tell the person you now want 15% when you see what is out there. You made an agreement and you must honour your agreement and that is what the government of Guyana is doing,” Trotman told a Parliamentary committee back in May 2018.

The Vice President noted however that the government will not be persuaded by Trotman’s sudden change of heart. In addition to questioning the prolonged period of silence by Trotman, Jagdeo said the administration he was part of wasted a golden opportunity to be strong negotiators on Guyana’s behalf. He recalled that in 2016, when the contract was being reviewed and before it was signed, Exxon was already sitting on three billion barrels of oil. Jagdeo said the then APNU+AFC coalition government failed to use this to its advantage and left Guyana with a contract that, for all its flaws, must still be honoured. 

Guyana moves to expand oil regulation with new proposed law

The Vice President said Trotman’s “tell-all” book can only be regarded in his eyes as an attempt to justify missed opportunities, regrets, and costly mistakes. 

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