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Petroleum Commission Bill for World Bank-guided overhaul

Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman

Guyana’s proposed Petroleum Commission legislation might be further revised or replaced altogether following more expert recommendations under the auspices of a World Bank-funded project, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said Tuesday.

It is now one year since the Petroleum Commission Bill was tabled in the 65-seat National Assembly, and Trotman said since then the World Bank has asked Guyana to put a brake on going forward to allow for an overhauled or new draft.

“They have committed to providing an expert to do the redraft. They had provided comments but the actual redraft is what is needed now and the intention is to have the bill back before the House, either a complete redraft or a new bill by June of this year,” said the Minister of Natural Resources shortly after meeting with World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, Tahseen Sayed Khan

The legal expert, he said, is expected in Guyana in the coming weeks to work on the inputs on the current draft that were received in February.

Well-placed government sources have told Demerara Waves Online News that government would not be granting more oil concessions until the relevant legislation is passed and the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Energy is established.

The World Bank is providing a US$20 million loan to finance institutional capacity building for the oil and gas sector. Government and the World Bank are said to be working out arrangements to pay the expert who would incorporate comments on the existing Bill into statutory language.

The Natural Resources Minister said a workshop was held on Monday with the ministers to brainstorm the idea of the Department of Energy and how it could be framed to accompany the Petroleum Commission Bill. The energy Task Force includes Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; Minister of Natural Resources, Trotman, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry and Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally.

When established, the Department of Energy would be responsible negotiating oil contracts and the issuance of licences among other duties. Key among those was the proposal by Trotman in his document that “all policy matters, including, but not limited to, the negotiating and entering into contracts, and issuing of licences for exploration and production.

Trotman explained that all the recommendations have been incorporated into a new Petroleum Commission Bill, paving the way for the World Bank to formulate a matrix and tried to synthesize them into one workable draft. The aim, he said, is to share the revised draft with stakeholders, the Guyana Bar Association, the various oil association, critics and the general public through its website and national consultations.

The Minister of Natural Resources has in the past said he had identified the need for more opposition and civil society representation on the proposed Petroleum Commission which would take over responsibility for the oil and gas sector from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.

 

Meanwhile, government’s second draft Local Content Policy is now available for public comment as part of another round of public consultation.

 

Trotman said he has asked ExxonMobil to release the latest statistics on the number of companies- estimated at more than 300 or 400 companies. “I don’t know why Exxon has not released this a lot of people are benefiting in this country already,” he said.

Guyana is set to become the Caribbean’s largest oil producer in 2020 when ExxonMobil begins commercial oil production from its Liza field located more than 100 miles off the coast.