There is nothing stopping Minister Trotman from releasing names of local companies engaged by ExxonMobil

Dear Editor,

I find it surprising that ExxonMobil has been relaying information to the Coalition Government, on a quarterly basis, given the reticence of this Administration when it comes to keeping the Guyanese public informed of the developments in the oil and gas sector. 

The non-disclosure of the names of local companies engaged by ExxonMobil has been the latest issue on which Minister Raphael Trotman has been called out on, despite calls by myself and other members of civil society for this to be done, months ago.   Guyanese would recall that, last month, when asked about his failure to make the disclosure, Minister Trotman was flippant in saying that he ‘did not know why Exxon had not released the names’ of the local companies it engaged.  It is only over the past several days that Guyanese became aware that Minister Trotman was, in fact, in possession of the information.  I feel firmly that his hiding behind the Chairman of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources is another excuse for not making the information public. It is a flimsy excuse and it exposes his reluctance to act.  There is nothing stopping his release of the names of the local companies.  I wish to repeat my call for the list of 309 local companies used by ExxonMobil in 2017 and the 227 used during the first quarter of 2018 to be released. 

Secondly, I have noted ExxonMobil’s position in saying that audits of pre-contract costs are ‘expected and customary’ in the oil sector. In doing so, I think it is clear, again, that the Coalition Government failed the Guyanese people in the re-negotiation of the oil contract.  If ExxonMobil is open to an audit, why wasn’t this done? Why did the Coalition Government not audit the pre-contract costs, before including it in the re-negotiated contract?  Why was there no verification done? There was clearly no push-back from ExxonMobil.   Given this state of affairs, there is reason for alarm regarding the quality of representation Guyanese received from the Coalition Government in this re-negotiation.   Last month I stated that fair questions had been asked by civic-minded Guyanese about the pre-contract costs and they should be answered. Today, I reiterate my call for the Government to resist its proclivity towards secrecy and ensure that the answers to these questions are given.

Yours faithfully,

Bharrat Jagdeo

Leader of the Opposition

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