Journalists need to become more adept at investigating conflicts of interest in the oil sector

Dear Editor,

My term as Petroleum Adviser to President Granger began in March 2017, whereas the re-negotiation of the contract for the Stabroek Block was performed about a year earlier (early part of 2016).  I have not negotiated contracts between any oil company and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

President Granger has been clear that his priority is for the oil and gas resource to benefit the Guyanese people without corruption.  The Petroleum Adviser supports this objective wholeheartedly.

It is encouraging to see Guyanese journalists paying attention to potential conflicts of interest.  Many in Guyana, including some of our most prominent officials and attorneys, seem not to recognise these conflicts.  Hence journalists need to become more adept at investigating possible conflicts of interest by directly querying allegedly involved parties, and highlighting likely abuses.  In the recent article in Kaieteur News about the Mangal brothers, it seems the relevant journalists failed to ask about or acknowledge the mitigation measures which are in place.  They also do not appear to have asked any of the oil companies operating in Guyana if they have perceived or experienced any resulting conflict.

The risk of corruption is likely to increase with the advent of our oil and gas sector due to the vast sums of money involved, and with the complex transnational business structures.  Objective, specialised and investigative journalism will therefore play a critical role in attaining the President’s vision.

Yours faithfully,

Jan Mangal

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