Stake­holder con­sen­sus ur­gently needed on oil and gas

Stabroek News - - STARBROEK NEWS -

Dear Ed­i­tor, Guyana’s pe­tro­leum sec­tor will be one of the new, key driv­ers of Guyana’s chang­ing econ­omy. How­ever, what is not clear to most Guyanese is, who will be the prin­ci­pal ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the new pro­duc­tive sec­tor.

Al­ready cer­tain sec­tions of the me­dia and some oil and gas skep­tics have suc­ceeded in con­vinc­ing the pop­u­lace into be­liev­ing that they ought not to ex­pect any im­prove­ment in their liv­ing stan­dards with the flow of oil rev­enues.

And the APNU+AFC in part­ner­ship with ExxonMo­bil is do­ing a hor­ri­ble job in con­vinc­ing the pop­u­lace oth­er­wise.

Nei­ther the govern­ment nor ExxonMo­bil has de­nied any of the re­ports pub­lished in the dailies about the neg­a­tive role of ExxonMo­bil in the coun­tries around the world where they may be pump­ing oil from those coun­tries’ pat­ri­mony.

The APNU+AFC coali­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­pears to be help­less in the face of mount­ing crit­i­cism of its pos­ture vis-a-vis that of ExxonMo­bil’s as re­gards trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity.

Ask any man or wo­man on the streets of Ge­orge­town, the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity would tell you how skep­ti­cal they are about ExxonMo­bil’s pres­ence and in­ten­tions in Guyana.

“We ain’t gat nun fuh get” is what you are likely to hear.

This me­dia-driven skep­ti­cism mixed with a high de­gree of cyn­i­cism does not au­gur well for the na­tion’s well­be­ing.

Un­less the ed­i­tors of the news­pa­pers are up to sen­sa­tion­al­iz­ing or be­ing mis­chievous, some­thing must be rot­ting in the Co­op­er­a­tive Repub­lic of Guyana. In any event, it would be un­rea­son­able were the ed­i­tors not given the ben­e­fit of the doubt.

Whether it is an over­dose of un­in­formed neg­a­tiv­ity or down­right fake news, the point is that nei­ther the govern­ment nor ExxonMo­bil has of­fered any an­swers what­so­ever. It is like talk­ing to a brick wall you get ab­so­lutely no re­sponses.

So dread­ful is the sit­u­a­tion that Guyanese have to learn from sources out­side the coun­try that for the third quar­ter of 2018 ExxonMo­bil and Chevron have re­ported over 1.59 per­cent and over 3.20 per­cent in­creases in prof­its re­spec­tively. This rep­re­sents their big­gest prof­its in 4 years and shows that de­clines in oil prices are not so scary af­ter all.

More­over, ac­cord­ing to ‘Real News Net­work’, a not for profit news and doc­u­men­tary net­work based in Mon­treal, Canada, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the State of New York has filed a law­suit against ExxonMo­bil in con­nec­tion with ‘a long stand­ing fraud­u­lent scheme to de­ceive in­vestors by pro­vid­ing false and mis­lead­ing as­sur­ances that it was ef­fec­tively manag­ing the eco­nomic risks posed by in­creas­ingly strin­gent poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions it ex­pected to be adopted to ad­dress cli­mate change.’

Why such dis­clo­sures and many oth­ers were never made known to Guyanese by ExxonMo­bil is any­one’s guess.

Un­less these and other mat­ters of na­tional in­ter­est are dis­cussed openly and con­struc­tively in the con­text of a na­tional di­a­logue aimed at for­mu­lat­ing the modal­i­ties for con­duct­ing an Eco­nomic Sur­vey and for­mu­lat­ing a Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy our coun­try will con­tinue to ‘knock from pil­lar to post.’

Al­ready, the nascent oil and gas sec­tor has be­come mired in di­vi­sive pol­i­tics. Is­sues such as the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Lo­cal Con­tent and the Com­po­si­tion and TORs of the Pe­tro­leum Com­mis­sion are just three cases to men­tion.

Un­like the sugar, rice and baux­ite in­dus­tries which were birthed in the colo­nial era, the oil and gas sec­tor is not.

Af­ter 52 years of in­de­pen­dence, the oil and gas sec­tor should not be sub­jected to the birth pangs other key pro­duc­tive sec­tors ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the colo­nial era.

Were this to come to pass, we would have com­mit­ted a grave in­jus­tice to the present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to come

With every pass­ing day, con­sen­sual pol­i­tics in re­spect to the oil and gas sec­tor is be­ing un­der­mined by the lack of trans­parency and the un­will­ing­ness by both govern­ment and ExxonMo­bil to be ac­count­able.

The en­tire na­tion is deeply in­ter­ested in trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in any mat­ter that they per­ceive will af­fect their daily bread.

What goes for one ad­min­is­tra­tion goes for the other.

Fol­low­ing lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions all stake­hold­ers should, in the na­tional in­ter­est seek to find a path­way that would place the key and strate­gic oil and gas in­dus­try on a sound, con­sen­sual and na­tion­al­is­tic foot­ing.

It is high time that an end be brought to the blame game and po­lit­i­cal foot­balling of the oil and gas in­dus­try.

Ei­ther we seek com­pro­mise or face dis­as­ter that could haunt us as a na­tion for years to come.

Yours faith­fully, Cle­ment J. Ro­hee

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.