Guyana defends contract with US-oil giant

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 18, CMC – The Guyana government Friday defended its decision to delay the release of oil blocks given to the US-based oil giant, ExxonMobil in its concession offshore Guyana, saying it did so in the interest of national security.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources that the David Granger administration felt the blocks should “remain intact” as it had been granted in 1999 because “we believe that the circumstances have not diminished”
He told the committee that the from neighbouring Venezuela was still valid and that Exxon has stood up and remained while other companies shied away from going too close to Venezuela.
He said also that Guyana wanted to “work with a company with international gravitas” and political and economic linkages, reiterating that the decision not to release any of the 60 blocks given to Exxon in the area as being “strategic.”
The Natural Resources Minister dismissed suggestions that it was illegal for Exxon to be granted that many blocs reminding of the May 2015 decree by President Nicolas Maduro to claiming the area where Exxon has made one of its largest oil discoveries.
Trotman told the committee that Guyana had inserted the stabilisation clause in a bid to provide comfort to ExxonMobil that the government would not make any changes because of the threat by Caracas.
“We wanted to anchor Exxon in our waters and to let them know that we are serious,” he said, noting that the US oil giant had given a commitment to begin oil production by 2020.
Meanwhile, Trotman said that the government is examining options for the establishment of a National Oil Company and that the authorities had received both positive and negative advice on this initiative.
But he said “I believe we will have a national oil company,” noting that there are different models for structuring such a company but referred all further questions on the possibility to President Granger, who recently announced that a new Department of Energy had been created within the Ministry of the Presidency to administer the affairs of the new oil and gas sector.

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