‘We’re pre­pared to fight’

-Re­gion 10 Chair­man is­sues ul­ti­ma­tum to gov’t over Ghana­ian oil re­fin­ery pro­posal

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

Chair­man of Re­gion 10 Re­nis Mo­rian, says he is giv­ing gov­ern­ment un­til Thurs­day to re­spond to pro­pos­als by a group of Ghana­ian in­vestors who want to build an oil re­fin­ery in Lin­den.

Mo­rian, who met the in­vestors at their Hous­ton, Texas of­fice, says that while he ar­ranged and had been a part of a meet­ing with the team and De­part­ment of En­ergy (DoE) head Dr. Mark By­noe, there has been no clear in­di­ca­tion from the DoE on the way for­ward.

“We are wait­ing on gov­ern­ment, we are giv­ing them time to re­spond and once we don’t have a word we will have much to say on Thurs­day,” Mo­rian told this news­pa­per.

The in­vestor group in­cludes Ghana­ian busi­ness­man Quincy Sin­timAboagye, who is the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Lushann In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Ghana Lim­ited, which op­er­ates in Ghana’s Salt­pond Oil Field, and which has been named at the cen­tre of scan­dals as one of the com­pa­nies in­debted to the now-col­lapsed UT Bank Ghana Lim­ited.

An­other mem­ber of the group is Al­fred Fafali Adagbedu, who is CEO of the Ghana­ian Seaweld En­gi­neer­ing Lim­ited. Mul­ti­ple on­line re­ports state that in 2009 he was sued by a for­mer part­ner, based on al­le­ga­tions that he had failed to honour an agree­ment giv­ing the man 40% of the com­pany for a deal he fa­cil­i­tated. That law­suit saw a judge rule to have an in­de­pen­dent fi­nan­cial com­pany over­see the fi­nances of the said com­pany. It is un­clear what hap­pened to that case.

On Novem­ber 15th, Mo­rian fa­cil­i­tated a meet­ing with the group and re­gional stake­hold­ers at the of­fice of the Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cil (RDC). The Guyana Times re­ported that Mo­rian in­formed that he had looked at the op­er­a­tions of the com­pany and was “blown away” with what he had dis­cov­ered.

In that re­port, Sin­timAboagye was quoted as say­ing, “All the ben­e­fits will come to Lin­den. If the oil re­fin­ery comes… We plan to roll some money into a ho­tel so that when the high ex­perts come here, they can spend some of the money here… We can also get into farm­ing to cre­ate the low-end jobs.”

Mo­rian had told at­ten­dees about the group’s in­vest­ment pro­posal and how ben­e­fi­cial it would be for their com­mu­nity. “Baux­ite is down. We’re look­ing for a con­sum­mate agency that could em­ploy. Here is one who’s will­ing to bring their own fund­ing , their own oil re­fin­ery… they would have es­tab­lished the kind of reper­toire in terms of train­ing that our gov­ern­ment about three or four weeks ago trav­elled to Ghana seek­ing train­ing for our lo­cal peo­ple here… I spoke with the Pres­i­dent who’s very up­beat about it… We’re pre­pared to fight to see this rig in Re­gion 10 for the peo­ple here…,” he said.

In the dark

On Novem­ber 22nd, the Re­gion 10 REO called a press con­fer­ence, where he ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment at the meet­ing with By­noe, say­ing that in the end, it saw the team leav­ing with­out word of in­ter­est from the Guyana gov­ern­ment.

Fol­low­ing that meet­ing, he told Sun­day Stabroek that he was con­cerned about the devel­op­ment of Lin­den and opined that the group was a le­git­i­mate

in­vest­ment team that wanted to help the com­mu­nity. He said that he did not like how the in­vestor was treated by the DoE, since af­ter the meet­ing be­tween the two sides, no other word had been forth­com­ing.

“Like I said at the meet­ing, we are in the dark. No­body called us to say any­thing. I had to leave the meet­ing and said they will do their talk­ing. When I asked the man, he said he don’t know if they are se­ri­ous…they did not tell him if they would call and they have not called; mat­ter of fact, they didn’t tell him any­thing se­ri­ous re­ally,” he said.

“If it is that we have to wait for them then say we have to wait or some­thing. We would un­der­stand that. We have not heard any­thing I am telling you, noth­ing,” he added.

Mo­rian said that he is per­plexed that the same group that he be­lieves is be­ing shunned by the DoE, had a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MoU) signed with Ge­orge­town of­fi­cials.

“This same group went to Ge­orge­town and had an agree­ment signed. How is that?” he asked, even though he would not tell this news­pa­per what the MoU con­tained and with which Ge­orge­town of­fi­cial the busi­ness was con­ducted.

By­noe, when con­tacted, that while he did have a meet­ing with an overseas in­vestor about Lin­den, he was bound by the con­fi­den­tial­ity of his of­fice to not dis­cuss in­vestors’ names, com­pa­nies or de­tails of those meet­ings with the press or pub­lic. He de­nied that his of­fice could not be reached by any­one who wanted an up­date or any other mat­ter, while re­mind­ing that this news­pa­per gets on to him even af­ter work hours and calls are re­turned when not an­swered.

‘Not or­di­nary peo­ple ’

When asked if he had con­ducted due dili­gence on the in­vestors, Mo­rian said he had. “Here you have doc­tors and en­gi­neers and busi­ness peo­ple. These are not or­di­nary peo­ple, so I don’t un­der­stand what is re­ally hap­pen­ing. I want to see this re­gion de­vel­oped be­cause for too long it has been for­got­ten,” he said.

“I am not look­ing at the pol­i­tics, I am look­ing for my peo­ple. We want this re­fin­ery here. We want to have ben­e­fits from this oil,” he added.

Asked if he had any per­sonal in­ter­ests in the in­vest­ment, he replied, “Ab­so­lutely none” and again stressed that he was “just look­ing out for Lin­den.”

But when asked this week about his visit to Hous­ton, Mo­rian be­came up­set. “I no­tice Stabroek News is go­ing back but I am go­ing for­ward…I will not talk about that,” he said.

Told that his si­lence could lead the pub­lic to per­ceive that he has some­thing to hide, he would only say, “I said I would speak again this Thurs­day.” Told that he will still be asked about the trip on Thurs­day, he said “I don’t mind, when that comes, I will deal with it,” be­fore ter­mi­nat­ing the call.

Sin­tim-Aboagye’s in­vest­ment group is not the first to ex­press in­ter­est in es­tab­lish­ing an oil re­fin­ery in Lin­den. Back in Fe­bru­ary of this year, lo­cal com­pany GuyEn­ergy, said it plans to build a mo­du­lar oil re­fin­ery in Re­gion 10 at a cost of around US $100 mil­lion. CEO Thu­rane Do­erga, had said that it would be com­pleted “way be­fore” ExxonMo­bil’s 2020 es­ti­mated pro­duc­tion start date, but as at to­day’s date, there has been no word on any devel­op­ment.

The DoE has said that all oil and gas mat­ters, which in­clude the build­ing of a re­fin­ery in any part of the coun­try, will be thor­oughly an­a­lyzed be­fore de­ci­sions are made. Those de­ci­sions, By­noe has said, will be in keep­ing with Guyana’s Green Agenda and for the max­i­mum ben­e­fits of the cit­i­zenry.

Re­nis Mo­rian (De­part­ment of Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion photo)

Dr. Mark By­noe

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