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AFC doubles down on oil block licence extensions; Govt insists there is no extension

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, 19:49 by Denis Chabrol

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Wednesday insisted that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration granted a second one-year extension due to COVID19 pandemic and failed to conduct an agreed quarterly review, but a top government oil sector policymaker rubbished the claim about an additional extension.

“There is absolutely no extension,” the official told Demerara Waves Online News on condition of anonymity. The official explained that based on Mr Granger’s letters, ExxonMobil’s Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) would now relinquish 20 percent of the Stabroek Block in 2024 instead of 2023. “It is not a second extension. We didn’t give another extension, We took the one-year extension as to the date when Exxon has to do the relinquishment,” the official added.

The war of words with the AFC continued after the Guyana government released copies of letters to EEPGL President Alistair Routledge in July 2020 showing that then President David Granger’s extension of three prospecting licences for the Stabroek, Kaieteur and Canje blocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AFC argued that Mr Granger’s correspondence did not amount to an extension in July, 2020 but instead had been pegged to a quarterly review from September, 2020. “It was not! It was a conditional process to recalibrate or deduct time after a review, where obviously Exxon had to show cause,” the AFC said.

Government has so far not clearly stated whether any review had been done.

“To just grant an extension without a review or any questions for a year in October 2023 to next year is certainly not better contract administration, nor holding the oil company accountable,” said the AFC fr0m which key ministers in the then coalition administration had been drawn.

The AFC said there was no justification for an extension because the then coalition-led Granger administration had facilitated charter flights from Trinidad and Tobago; Houston, United States and London, United Kingdom as well as the deployment of Health Ministry personnel to a number of hotels that had been used as quarantine locations.Ā  “Hence, no recalibration of time ought to take place because indeed the APNU/AFC Coalition did all it possibly could have done to normalise processes for Exxon during the abnormal COVID period.

The AFC said even if the APNU+AFC had granted ExxonMobil a one-year extension for COVID related activities, the question now has arisen why it is now necessary for the PPP to also grant an additional extension for the same reasons, three years after the pandemic.

“The approach of the Coalition contrasts with the laying-down-and-tek-all you-want attitude of the PPP. The relationship with Exxon is undoubtedly incestuous now. No conditionality whatsoever is provided for, no question asked nor any review to be done by Exxon in this governance regime as agreed to by Jagdeo,” the AFC said.

But the government official assailed the AFC, saying that “party is in a sad state because they basically cannot understand anything about policy.”

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August 2023