Last Updated on Thursday, 22 July 2021, 11:16 by Denis Chabrol
The newly-formed Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber (GOGEC) on Thursday made a pitch to become a member of the Petroleum Commission whenever it is set up, but the Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat said it was too early to make that decision.
A draft Petroleum Commission law is yet to be approved by the National Assembly.
Speaking at the opening of GOGEC, in the presence of the Ministers of Natural Resources and Public Works, the President of the Chamber Manniram Prashad called for his organisation to become a member of the Petroleum Commission.
He later told News-Talk Radio Guyana that his Chamber, which currently has 60 members, is best suited to sit on the Petroleum Commission as an industry stakeholder. “I want to make sure that, as the lead organisation for the oil and gas sector, we’re part of any body that is set up to manage the oil and gas sector- not only the Petroleum Commission- any body, any organisation that is tasked with seeing or implementing decisions that will affect the oil and gas sector, we want to be part of it because our membership is wide; it cuts across every facet,” he said.
But, Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat told reporters that it was too early to make a decision about who will sit on the Petroleum Commission.
Mr. Bharrat said the Petroleum Commission Bill is being revised to address long-held concerns by the People’s Progressive Party about the excessive powers of the Minister responsible for Petroleum to override the Commission.” “Now we’re in government, we don’t want to be hypocritical so our position remains the same: the minister with responsibility for petroleum should not have that kind of power to usurp the authority of the Petroleum Commission,” he said.
The Natural Resources Minister says the Petroleum Commission Bill will be re-tabled in the National Assembly later this year or early next year. The Bill was previously introduced to the House in 2017 and sent to a parliamentary select committee for further discussions.
Indications are that when the Bill goes back to the House, it would be the subject of public discussions.
Asked how would he address perceptions that GOGEC would not be neutral because he is a former government minister in a previous People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration, Mr. Prashad said that his organisation was “apolitical” and “we’re the private sector organisation that is taking the lead and we feel that we should have a voice on the Petroleum Commission.”
“I’m a private sector person all the time. I served the government for a short period of time but I came from the private sector and I’m back in the private sector and we need everybody to be involved and our Oil and Gas Energy Chamber is non-political,” he said.
The GOGEC President said his organisation has signed memoranda of understanding with organisations such as the Ghana Upstream Energy Chamber and Commerce, Suriname Energy Chamber, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States as well as Guyana’s Maritime Administration, and the Guyana Office of Investment. Plans, he said, are also in the pipeline to sign similar accords with the Environmental Protection Agency, Central Housing and Planning Authority and the Lands and Surveys Commission. “We must have all these agencies -close working relationship with them- so that we have issues with our membership, we can be the facilitator,” he said.