ExxonMobil mum on opposition claims about agreement with govt on reduced costs

Last Updated on Friday, 13 October 2023, 18:19 by Denis Chabrol

ExxonMobil on Friday remained silent amid calls by Guyana’s opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) for the company to exhibit integrity and admit that it informed the lawmakers that it had reached an agreement with government to reduce disputed costs from US$214 million to US$3 million.

A company spokesman said he forwarded a Demerara Waves Online News question asking what ExxonMobil’s definitive position is on whether or not Mr Routledge or any other representative, had said the company and government had agreed to a reduction to US$3 million. The question was also dispatched to a spokeswoman.

Several calls to her mobile number and WhatsApp went unanswered and the referred number in the US was busy throughout Friday.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton and four other team members doubled down on their position that ExxonMobil informed them in a meeting on September 8, 2023 that the company agreed with government to a US$3 million reduction because it was too time consuming to continue to go through all the information and reduce it further, and the company has all the information on their expenditure.

Mr Norton, parliamentarians David Patterson, Ricky Ramsaroop and Shurwayne Holder as well as Finance advisor Elson Lowe challenged Exxon to prove its honesty by informing Guyanese what it informed them. “We highlighted is what was conveyed to us in the meeting, and it is now opportune for Exxon to honor its comment that it operates based on integrity, transparency and accountability and state publicly what it told the Opposition delegation it met,” they said in a joint statement on the IHS Markit audit.

They formalised their position a day after Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters that at a Cabinet meeting, President Irfaan Ali had called ExxonMobil asking whether it was true they had informed Mr Patterson that they had agreed on a reduction of the disputed audit costs to which the company official responded that that was inaccurate.

At the Opposition Leader’s weekly news conference, Mr Norton said he and his team did not have incontrovertible proof that the ExxonMobil official had stated that that American oil supermajor and government had agreed to the cut. “This is not a meeting that was recorded so I don’t know what you mean by incontrovertible evidence when there are two sides to it,” he said.

However, he sought to assure Guyanese that, “we know what we said is correct; there is no need for us to lie and so that is why we asked in the public domain for Exxon to address it publicly because we are also aware of the nature of Bharrat Jagdeo.”

Mr Jagdeo said, through the Guyana Revenue Authority, government continued to maintain that the cost in dispute would remain unchanged at US$214 million.

Mr Lowe said there was an entire discussion and explanations were given.