Oil companies do not as a matter of practice invest in logistics bases

Dear Editor,

We have noted your editorial entitled ‘ExxonMobil developments’ dated February 6, and we hereby clarify some of the points made and questions asked.

  1. The invitation to media houses to the high level briefing of senior government functionaries on Wednesday February 1, 2017 at the Georgetown Marriott was not sent out by the Ministry of Natural Resources
  2. There is nothing unusual about the media being asked to leave following the welcoming and opening remarks of an event. ExxonMobil was briefing the government and other members of parliament on their activities leading to oil production. It was not intended to be a public event. There will be wider public briefings and consultations over the coming weeks. ExxonMobil indicated to the media at the briefing in question that subsequent media briefings will be conducted as was done in the past.
  3. It is unfortunate that the Editor chose to use the word ‘trite’ to describe remarks of Minister Raphael GC Trotman, who uses every opportunity he can to give to the Guyanese people a measured overview of where the country is in its preparation for oil and gas. To write those comments off as trite suggests that there is no value in the updates that the Minister or ministry may give.
  4. We value the media as an important stakeholder in all of the ministry’s work and it is for this reason that the ministry through its Public Affairs and Communications Unit is always a phone call, an email, or even a WhatsApp or SMS message away. Inquiries which cannot be answered immediately are always acknowledged and a response given when available. This is a fact to which your reporters can attest.

Onshore supply base

Government has signalled that it has given its no-objection to the establishment of an onshore supplies base to be located in the area of Crab Island in the Berbice River and to be established through the joint efforts of the Ministries of Natural Resources, Public Infrastructure and Business.

Based on our technical advice, the location chosen was the most optimal, taking into consideration all of the relevant factors. These include available land space, availability of skills, and location to offshore oil fields including those in the Stabroek Block. We see no need for the speculation as to why ExxonMobil is not an investor in the facility or the perceived transportation difficulties regarding the chosen location. We reiterate that oil companies do not, as a matter of practice, invest in logistics bases and we invite your newspaper and any other interested Guyanese to verify this by conducting research on international best practices.

While we recognize Mr Jagdeo’s right to seek clarity and ask questions as a Guyanese, we again state that his comments about the onshore supply base project being “pie in the sky” were ill advised. As stated previously, it is our informed position that the supply base is a needed facility for the burgeoning oil and gas sector and should be established sooner rather than later.

The Government of Guyana has been careful in the consideration of the project and will ensure the people of Guyana receive value for money and that the project pays ‘dividends’ over its lifetime. Undoubtedly, the cost of having the facility is far less than the cost of not having it in place.

It is expected that such a facility will optimize the opportunities for the country in its quest to be successful in its oil and gas exploration and production.

Private parties have already indicated strong interest in being a part of the project and to this end, interviews with a significant number of both local and international interested parties were held at the end of October and early November, 2016.

The Ministry of Natural Resources will in the coming months make public the proposed financial and public private partnership arrangements for the facility.  The Ministry of Natural Resources will be embarking on a countrywide programme of sensitization and public engagement on this and other matters related to the development of the oil and gas industry, as well as other natural resources.

We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and informed and to avoid political mis-directions that can hamper the effective development of this opportunity for Guyanese.

Yours faithfully,

N Johann Earle

Public Affairs and Communications Officer

Ministry of Natural Resources

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