Protesters call for transparent management of oil sale

first_imgA group of Guyanese on Monday assembled outside of the Ministry of the Presidency for a peaceful protest, calling for Guyana’s oil to be managed and sold in a transparent process. Recognised as the Youth Movement Guyana, the protesters called for the country’s oil sales to be transparent, indicating that this resource must not be devalued.This came in light of the Department of Energy’s revelation that Government plans to approach traders directly and have them buy Guyana’s oil. This announcement was first made in a Bloomberg report, which the agency later confirmed, adding that this arrangement was only intended for the first three crude lifts.Standing on the picketing lines, Robin Singh shared that US oil giant, ExxonMobil should be given the task of selling one lift of oil, until a new Government is elected. He said that with a caretaker Administration currently presiding over Guyana, any money obtained from a sale should be kept aside until a legitimate Government takes over. “We’re proposing that until the elections, there’s going to be one lifting of the oil. Exxon can handle that. Exxon can sell it and Exxon can put the money in escrow for whoever comes into Government or back into the Government. That is straightforward,” he positioned.According to him, this matter is too important to ignore, since it entails a substantial amount of the country’s money at stake, depending on the value of oil and what it is sold for. Nevertheless, it was indicated that the Movement will continue to watch over the actions of any Government to ensure transparency.Guyanese holding placards and voicing their concerns at the protest line on Monday outside President David Granger’s office“It’s too much to just let it slide and say ‘Well its elections’. No. This is trying to sell before you got and the reasons given are not logical or valid…We’re going to keep monitoring whoever is in Government to make sure that they’re transparent. If you want to sell oil, advertise. We have a Tender Board. We have a Procurement Act. Follow those laws and we’re okay. I think we’d be better off. Oil is not going to sell more or less than it’s worth and at the market price.”Meanwhile, Don Singh also spoke with Guyana Times, indicating that citizens are very sceptical about secretive deals, ever since the signing bonus was denied by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and later brought to light.“We had that PSA in 2015 that we knew nothing about. We didn’t hear anything about it. Then we heard rumours of an oil bonus and it was denied and then we heard about it a year later. When I heard Dr Bynoe talking about this now, face-to-face meetings, thanks to Bloomberg for actually busting it because we, Guyanese once again would not have known anything about it. We’re talking about a lot of money here, three million barrels of oil. We would have to pay brokerage fees. Now we don’t know how we paying those brokerage fees to and as Bloomberg pointed out, face-to-face meetings are highly unusual. These things are done easily through Skype or whatever,” he said. Singh, who has been involved in other citizen-driven movements in the past, insisted that the Department should have waited until after the March elections when a new Government will be elected. He too expressed that Exxon should have brokered the first oil sale, since the value of the crude would be determined, allowing Guyana to assess its earnings from other such transactions.“With an interim Government in place and elections less than 10 weeks away, why not just wait? Why not let just Exxon do the first sale because they have layers of transparency that they would have to report to and we would also get an adequate idea of the value and product that we have. Why this rush and this ‘face-to-face meetings’ and we will secure something in the future? And then we’re asking the broker, whoever that is, to handle our backroom…What is going on? I’m weary of this nonsense that is going on.”Nadira Mohan also held a placard, stating that Guyana’s oil must not be sold for less than it is worth. She fears that with backroom deals, citizens will not reap the full benefits.“It must not be devalued. We need that it must be spent properly and all Guyanese must equally [benefit],” Mohan voiced.The Energy Department had indicated via a statement on Sunday that its uncertainty about the quality of the crude and the cost to refine it was another factor in this decision. This is despite Exxon consistently announcing that the crude it has found in the Liza Field is of high quality.The Department admitted that this may be considered a “novel” approach, a point that was made by the Bloomberg article. However, the Department defended the unusual situation by noting that learning from the traders was a strategic move that has precedent.last_img read more