General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said if his party wins the March general elections, his government will block the company selected for a trial sale of Guyana’s first three million barrels of oil.
“Now let me make it clear that any company that ties up an arrangement now, we have made a decision that when we go to open public tender for the sale of our crude that the company that ties up the arrangement with them now shall be excluded when the open public tender is done,” he told a news conference.
Guyanese only knew that the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Energy will this week hold talks with several prospective buyers through a foreign news report.
Mr. Jagdeo says this smacks of secrecy and the company will not be allowed to bid in the future for any of the Guyana government’s share of the oil.
He says the incumbent coalition administration should not be making such important agreements because it is a caretaker government until Guyanese go to the polls on March 2, 2020. “They are knowingly entering into a contract with a government that has its powers reduced and that is known for its venality that shouldn’t be tying up any such arrangements before the elections,” Jagdeo added.
Mr. Jagdeo says if the Guyana government needs to set a standard for oil from the Liza 2 well, based on the removal of impurities and contaminants, the administration could have asked ExxonMobil to do so. He notes that ExxonMobil will be conducting a similar process at its refinery for its first million barrels of oil.
The Ministry of the Presidency has said that the selection this week of one of the well-known and reputable international oil companies is aimed at setting a standard for Guyana’s oil from the Liza field and getting the best possible price.
Already, the Head of the Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe has made it clear that his office would not be party to any corrupt transaction, but at the same time certain disclosures would be made while others could not be. He assured that the process would be “very transparent” in addition to the market disclosures. “Government will be keen to share as much as it can when it can to allow you to gain confidence that there is nothing happening behind the scenes, there is nothing nefarious taking place, there are no side-deals occurring here,” said Bynoe earlier this week.
The Department of Energy, he said, has a “zero tolerance policy on corruption” even as he cautioned against negotiating deals in the public.