President Ali fires back at former President Ramotar over ExxonMobil contract renegotiation

Last Updated on Saturday, 7 October 2023, 7:47 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali, clearly angered by calls for the Guyana government to renegotiate the contract with ExxonMobil, during his address at the Guyana-Canada Chamber of Commerce Maple Leaf Ball. 

In clear reference to a newspaper report quoting former President Donald Ramotar as saying he would have renegotiated the ExxonMobil oil contract, President Irfaan Ali on Friday lashed back saying that such an approach would have dire consequences for investor confidence in Guyana.

“How will you build confidence in the system when you have the sophisticated investor looking on from the outside and say ‘who are these guys? You can’t depend on them,” he said.

Stopping short of naming Mr Ramotar, he on the same day that Kaieteur News newspaper quoted the former Guyanese leader as saying that he would have renegotiated the contract with ExxonMobil.

H said among today’s so-called specialists included a “former President” whose aim was to make newspaper headlines. “Everybody wants a front page now. Some of them had plenty years to change it but they want a frontpage now. The easiest thing to get a frontpage is to say ‘I support changing the contract’,” Dr Ali said.

“You want us to change the contract? You have an existing contract. You think that is how it happens, that is how the world operates; that you can just walk in one day and decide ‘I had this contract with you, I’m changing it now’?

One lawsuit! This is not play-thing And some of these guys were policymakers to believe that you, it’s nice, it’s fanciful, it’s exciting and very popular to say ‘we can change the contract,” a clearly agitated Dr Ali told the Guyana-Canada Chamber of Commerce Maple Leaf Ball.

Instead, he reiterated government’s position that Guyana would learn from its mistakes and ensure that future contracts do not contain the same problems.

Noting that the People’s Progressive Party Civic administration had been “given a bad hand”, he cautioned against being opportunistic rather than being realistic.

Kaieteur News newspaper quoted Mr Ramotar as saying the contract that governs the prolific Stabroek Block is lopsided and should have been renegotiated to give Guyana a large share of profit oil.

The Guyana government has instead passed a new law governing the oil and gas sector. The new legislation is accompanied by a new Production Sharing Agreement which increases profit oil share from 12.5 percent +2 percent royalty to 17.5 percent +10 percent royalty. and a reduction in cost oil from 75 percent to 65 percent.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has tiptoed around precise questions on whether he supports contract renegotiating, instead opting to say that provisions in the deal allow for Guyanese to get more.