Guyana must renegotiate the ExxonMobil contract

Dear Editor

I refer to Charles Sohan’s letter in yesterday’s SN (‘UG students will have to be onlookers in the oil industry…’)  Keep this matter on the front pages every day until we get answers. President Granger should use his extraordinary powers to order some sort of a national review of this contract. The contract should be laid in the parliament for debate and approval. It should be in the public domain to get a sense of some sort of a national consensus from the population.

Contracts of this type involving exploitation of the patrimony of the Guyanese people cannot be done through secret contracts. Let this nation learn from the experiences of Indonesia and Chad. In Indonesia Congressmen and the masses are protesting daily and calling on the ExxonMobils to “pack up and leave”. In Chad, the government there took ExxonMobil to court for royalties owed. The courts there handed down a $74 billion judgment against the company. Let us get this contract right and avoid the problems Indonesia and Chad have.

We in Guyana need ExxonMobil as much as they need our oil resources. The oil reserves of Guyana have already been quantified in dollars and entered on the balance sheets of the company as equity. Every year ExxonMobil has to find new reserves of oil to replace those exploited and consumed; this way they keep their stock prices up.

What are we getting from this deal? Is it royalties for every gallon of crude oil? Is it a cut of the revenue from the sale of crude oil? Is it profits (revenue minus expenses ‒ exploratory costs plus operating costs)? I hope profits are not mentioned in the contract, because this would be a crude joke. Is the royalty paid per gallon? Is it based on a fixed price per gallon (what happens if the price goes back to $80 a barrel?)

The Guyanese nation absolutely must renegotiate this contract and get a sense of nationwide approval for the contract.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Persaud

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