Ministers making untrue statements on oil and gas issues

Dear Editor,

I believe it is the mandate of any citizen of the land, who expects veracity in the leaders they have chosen, if they are in possession of facts, to expose any politician for duplicitous statements or actions.

Recently, three ministers of the government, namely, Minister Raphael Trotman, Minister Dominic Gaskin and Minister Khemraj Ramjattan released incorrect information to the public via the press corps, which indicated that in 1997, according to Minister Trotman; 2008, according to Minister Gaskin; and 2011, according to Minister Ramjattan, that then President Bharrat Jagdeo had amended the Petroleum Act so as to ensure that the ExxonMobil contract could not be released to the public. They cannot even get their dates straight when concocting their stories.

These contradictory pronouncements by the three Ministers are all untrue. Neither former President Jagdeo nor any other PPP president ever amended the Act to prevent disclosure of the contract. There is an obvious agenda by members of the coalition government to malign the reputation of Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.

Shortly thereafter, at a recent press conference, Minister Patterson, supported by Ministers Ramjattan and Cathy Hughes, also informed the Guyanese public that there were no remaining un-assigned oil blocks because Dr Jagdeo had already distributed all. Again, this is palpably untrue and has compelled me to release the list of concessions and expose the falsehood being repeated by the current administration in another effort to defame Dr Jagdeo. The following advisement reveals that, of the ten existing concessions, none had been given out by the Jagdeo administration.

When faced with exposure of this misrepresentation, the decent thing to do would be to apologize and withdraw the erroneous claims. Instead, in Kaieteur News of Friday September 22, the Minister, in another act of deception, now claims that all the offshore blocks in which people are interested are gone and that is what he was referring to. The map from the GGMC, published in the Kaieteur News article of September 22, outlines the offshore blocks that are yet available.

ExxonMobil was given by the late Janet Jagan (1999); eight were given by former President Donald Ramotar, to wit, Mid-Atlantic (2015),  CGX (2012-13),  Repsol (2013),  Retio (2015),       Anadarko (2012), On Energy (2013),  Nabi (2012).

The tenth one was given under the Granger presidency by Minister Trotman to Tullow Eco Atlantic. Based on recently released documents by GGMC, there still remain several unallocated blocks.

Let me hasten to add that all of the blocks allocated by PPP presidents were properly issued, as a result of which ExxonMobil invested millions of dollars, which led to the discovery of oil.

I wish to deplore the constant misrepresentation of facts by the coalition administration, and the incessant repetition by sections of the print media. It seems that deflecting the public’s attention away from their own inadequacies and ungrounded accusations against PPP leaders, especially Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, is a norm in the coalition construct and its partners in the media.

One glaring instance is the lie that has been exposed, time and again, that is yet repeated by coalition ministers of government and reprinted in the Kaieteur News, for example,

Trotman’s allegation in Parliament that Dr Jagdeo and the PPP gave out all of the productive land in the forestry sector. This has been repeatedly refuted. According to the Opposition Leader: “The fact is that about fifty-five per cent of the state forest has been given out so far in our history: It’s about seven million hectares out of 12.5 million hectares; and out of that 55 per cent, just about 40 per cent is under extraction. Of the (millions of) hectares that were given out, almost half was given out in the pre-1992 era. Barama alone had 1.7 million hectares.”

In conclusion, I have observed the recent headlines and hype surrounding the government’s announcement that they are engaged in discussions with ExxonMobil to bring gas onshore to generate electricity. Again, this is obviously a  ploy to divert the public’s attention from the atrocious spate of blackouts that have been ravaging the lives of citizens. This cannot be the solution for the pressing problems we face on a daily basis.

I was with the Leader of the Opposition when he asked officials from ExxonMobil whether a feasibility study to use gas for electricity, as compared to other alternatives, was done. The answer was in the negative.

The PPP/C is prepared to defend its legacy as it relates to its decisions to grant oil and gas concessions, in particular, since its decision to embrace ExxonMobil has borne fruit, and has been proven to be a transparent process.

 

Yours faithfully,

Odinga Lumumba, MP

Vice Chairman

Natural Resources Sectoral

Committee

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