What is being gained from ExxonMobil’s investment?

Dear Editor,

Minister Trotman is reported (18th Jan) as stoutly defending ExxonMobil’s investment here. He says that Guyana should focus on what has been gained. Like what?

The 2% royalty? The Falkland Islands have negotiated 9%. This tiny territory of 4,000 people will get 4.5 times as much as Guyana on every barrel of oil. Tarron Khemraj has made a convincing case as to why the signing bonus should have been US$238M. The paltry US$18M paid to Guyana is 0.0082 % of ExxonMobil’s 2016 turnover. Has Guyana suddenly gone back to an era when tribal peoples transferred vast wealth to colonial adventurers in exchange for glass beads and mirrors?  Minister Trotman claims that ExxonMobil is investing billions in Guyana. How so? Searching for oil is not investing in Guyana. It is searching for oil. The World Bank recently warned that Guyana could end up subsidising any unsuccessful exploration by ExxonMobil. So, money that should come in for pensioners, sick people, homeless people, those who have lost their jobs,  the defence of Guyana’s sovereignty, etc, could conceivably end up in the very deep pocket of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company.

Minister Trotman is promising per capita wealth beyond imagining and some cooking gas in every house once government pays (that means Guyanese citizens’ money) for the gas pipeline. How much per capita wealth will go to the citizens of Guyana? How much will go in secret payments?  Where is the evidence that Minister Trotman can safeguard Guyana’s interests? Can Minister Trotman ensure that there is no inflation of costs in order to keep profits down? How much tax will Guyana get? Remember the US$74 billion fine that Chad imposed on ExxonMobil for tax avoidance? How much income tax will the expatriate employees pay? Or is it only the Guyanese businesses and workers who struggle to build up Guyana who have to pay tax? We know for sure though, there is one thing we will get – sewage. 4,000 barrels of it every day.  Over the proposed 23 years of the ‘Liza 1 investment’ the sewage will add up to 1,410,360,000 gallons. Using ExxonMobil’s lower estimate of 800,000,000 barrels of oil Guyana will get 1.76 (1¾) gallons of sewage for every barrel of oil. That says more about ‘ExxonMobil’s investment’ than all of Minister Trotman’s pronouncements. So, why are we doing this?

Yours faithfully,
Melinda Janki

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