With a limited number of petroleum experts here, government plans to embark on a global search for the best qualified personnel to staff the proposed Department of Energy (DoE), President David Granger says.
“We are conducting talks and we have a road map we have to identify personnel, we have to identify buildings we have to and start advertising to attach quality personnel that can lead this important department into the future. We are being very careful,” Granger told reporters yesterday at State House.
The President informed that he is very confident that by the 1st of May this year that there will be some announcement on staffing but that the preparatory work is being done by government to see this realized. He did not go into details on what structure the agency would have or what rules or regulations were followed for its setting up. It is unclear if it would be part of the Public Service.
“It is going to be a challenge because this is an international industry we are aiming at a world class industry so we have to get the best. As you know, Guyana has no experience in the field and we have a small petroleum unit which is now in the Ministry of Natural Resources and we obviously have to attract the best people from around the world. So we are not attempting to avoid that responsibility, so have to be careful,” he said when asked about human resource constraints.
The APNU+AFC government has been heavily criticised for not hiring experts to oversee the negotiations with ExxonMobil’s subsidiary, EEPGL in 2016 for the controversial Production Sharing Agreement which many analysts have said has left Guyana with far less than it should be receiving when oil production begins in 2020.
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, who was responsible for the petroleum sector, gave up those responsibilities last month and announced that the DoE would be formed saying he believed that the President should be able to shape the vision for oil and gas.
He denied that the plan to establish a Department of Energy to oversee the petroleum sector was due to the criticism directed at both him and the government over the contract negotiated with ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary and its partners.
“It was not inspired by criticisms because the president had it with him for several months. But certainly, I believe, it turned out to be in our best interests because I will not be the target for an otherwise good industry that is coming and I believe it will remove the distractions,” he told Stabroek News in an interview even as he emphasized the need for the president’s guidance in directing the way forward.
According to a Ministry of the Presidency statement, Trotman said he proposed the department to the president last year.
“Eventually the expectation is that the Ministry of Natural Resources will hand over responsibility of the function of petroleum to this new Department and we will see a more direct and focused mandate from this Department of Energy and we will, of course, as a Cabinet, be supporting the Department,” he was quoted as saying.
Cabinet has mandated that Trotman head a Task Force, which would comprise the Finance, State, Public Infra-structure and Business ministers, to formulate a proposal for the development of the mandate of the Department of Energy, as well as how it will be structured and staffed. The Public Security, Public Telecommunications, Education and Social Protection ministers are also expected to be included.