Guyanese should demand that oil and gas production licences be taken to public auction

Dear Editor,

A recent public statement on behalf of the Government of Guyana by Minister Trotman, the minister responsible for the natural resources sector in relation to the issuance of new oil and gas exploration and production licences was that “whether we go openly and publicly with international bids, or whether we have quiet and private discussions, will be determined by the national interest,” should have all Guyanese deeply worried about being able to receive its due share of oil and gas wealth.

The common and best practice to confer licences, especially in the oil and gas sector in an area where a petroleum system has been proven, is by public auction and not “private discussions”. This is the best way to realise maximum economic value on behalf of all Guyanese and maximum economic value is what is ultimately in the national interest.

In addition, the Guyana-Suriname basin is the second most prospective in the world and the recent success rates of discoveries together with the quality of oil means that there is massive global interest in Guyana’s potential. These elements are all the more reason for there to be a public auction. Any other method such as “private discussions” is simply selling off Guyana’s interest on the cheap and an opportunity for massive corruption as politicians and their acolytes become filthy rich at the huge expense of Guyana and Guyanese people.

What makes this scenario even scarier for me as a Guyanese is the revelations disclosed by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday in relation to applications for oil and gas licences by persons close to the APNU+AFC government when combined with the Minister’s statement of intent to confer licences by “private discussions”.

The potential for corruption is already huge where natural resources are concerned, let alone oil and gas, but does not only occur when production starts; it also happens well in advance of production and the Guyanese people must demand that all oil and gas exploration and production licences be taken to public auction. That is in the national interest of Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Charles S Ramson  

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