Minister Trotman’s statement on the negotiations is at odds with the preamble to the agreement

Dear Editor,

Even as Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman touts his academic and professional qualifications (S/N 30-12-2017 GGMC team clinched Exxon pact –Trotman) including negotiations skills, he reportedly distanced himself from any participation in the renegotiations leading to a new Petroleum Agreement with Esso/Hess/CNOOCNexen. He is reported as stating that “the technical staff of the GGMC… Mr Newell Dennison (Commissioner of GGMC) and his team were the principal negotiators (of the Exxon petroleum agreement).”

If one is to believe Mr. Trotman then it means that the Preamble to the Agreement is false and misleading. On the other hand, if the Preamble is accurate, then we have Mr. Trotman once again lying to the country.

Here is what paragraph (6) of the Preamble states about the role of the GGMC:

GGMC has been authorised by the Minister to assist in and support the negotiation of this agreement subject to the provisions of the Act and Regulations and to the final written approval of the Minister of its contents and execution thereof and assist in the administration and implementation thereof.

I do not think the language can be any clearer. To “assist and support” could only be in relation to persons undertaking the actual negotiations.

Mr. Trotman was not truthful about the source of the confidentiality provision in the 1986 Act or about the payment of a signature bonus. Now he attributes to the Geology and Mines Commission responsibility (blame?) for the negotiation of a contract that weakens rather than strengthens Guyana’s position after it became clear that oil had been found in significant quantities.

Given Mr. Trotman’s propensity to evade and distort the truth, it would be folly to inquire into the role played by the quintet plus one, the international legal firms and advisors, and of the Attorney General, into the contract renegotiations and the cost to the country in terms of actual disbursements.

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Ram  

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