Gov’t to seek advance payments from Exxon

- Trotman

Government plans to seek pre-commercial production payments from oil company ExxonMobil to fund a number of projects, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman says.

“It is a discussion that we must have. We’ve looked at other countries where oil companies have made that kind of an upfront payment in anticipation but I think we need to get a better sense now of when they are likely to go to production,” Trotman told reporters at the sidelines of a seminar on a Sovereign Wealth Fund Framework.

He said the president of ExxonMobil will be in Guyana in January to meet with President David Granger and coming out of that engagement, they are likely to sit down and have that discussion. Trotman said he had no idea of the amount government would seek as this would be the remit of Granger, who is the Minister of Petroleum.

“As an underdeveloped country, we need some infrastructural projects very fast. Government wants to open up Guyana so we’re looking at things like the road to Brazil, roads into some parts of the hinterland, ensuring, for example, that we have low-cost travel by air or road to some of these places,” Trotman said, while responding to a question on what projects the government wants to fund.

He also mentioned increasing the capacity of the university and technical institutes. He said that the government wants Guyanese to benefit as fast as possible and the administration is looking at bringing back overseas-based Guyanese who have expertise in the oil and gas sector.

Some of these persons have already offered their services, he said.

In September, ExxonMobil reiterated its commitment to oil exploration work here and said its next investment may be as early as January next year.

The US company earlier this year announced what is believed to be a significant oil find offshore Guyana and this has raised the prospect of other wells being drilled.

The discovery was clouded by the collapse in international oil prices, which makes it less attractive for immediate extraction, and an aggressive campaign by Venezuela to scare off the US company from the site and further work in the area offshore Demerara.