Regarding calls for the renegotiation of the Exxon contract, it was good to finally hear from Exxon on the matter. I would like to extend a warm Guyanese welcome to Mr. Routledge coming from the oil kingdom of Qatar. Exxon is a most cherished partner, and we want them to be a part of our development, not our underdevelopment. We all dreamed of the day Guyana would find oil and we would all be rich, but it seems this will turn into a long national nightmare, as the “oil curse,” “oil corruption” and “Dutch disease” seem to have started early.
The Exxon boss explained that Exxon was drawn to Guyana because “the resources that we find here in Guyana are competitive on a global basis. They are good quality resources…Not one but a number of resources.” Exxon also closed some operations in Europe to focus on Guyana which has larger reserves and is a more lucrative country in the Exxon portfolio. In many countries, a typical well may have 10 million barrels, in Guyana it runs into billions of barrels in that Stabroek Block. Darshanand Khusial of the Oil and Gas Network (OGGN) explains that Guyana has lots of good sweet crude, and the cost of production of a barrel of oil in Guyana is very low compared to other Exxon fields.
In Guyana, life is good for Exxon. To make it sweet and nice for Exxon capitalizing on our divisions, Guyana is always in political gridlock, with the new Opposition PNC vowing to engage in a strategy of “resistance” against the PPP elected in free and fair elections. Additionally, we are totally unprepared for oil, lack everything regarding the managing and monitoring of the industry, and in our gross “wisdom” we have put the man trained in oil to be in charge of sports and put the computer man in charge of oil. What a country! And our own oil expert Dr. Jan Mangal wanting to come back and help us has not been rehired as yet.
The Exxon boss revealed that the Guyana government has “emphasized they are reviewing the contract but they are not seeking to negotiate the contract.” So the PPP has some explaining to do. The masses are not asses. Routledge said that “sanctity of contract” is important. I agree about sanctity but understand that Guyana paying the taxes of Exxon is not a “sanctified” action, nor are oil spills and flaring, local content goals not met, or lack of detailed cost expenses not being provided, according to our laws. (Imagine Exxon jeering us why we are suing for oil spills they have made).
We probably can also argue that the PNC Coalition was “mad” (and had no capacity to contract) and there was no parliamentary review when they signed a contract like that. How could normal people sign a contract like that? The Guyanese people should never forgive the PNC for this great iniquity against the nation.
Nation, regardless of whether the contract is renegotiated or not, the political and business elite would wallow in the good life, and the working poor – farmers, sugar workers, bauxite workers, sales people, security guards, domestics, taxi drivers, etc. will continue to live hand to mouth and paycheck to paycheck. Is that what we want?
Now is the time for the “Guardians of Oil Brigade” to step up and let Exxon know that the Guyanese nation does not think the contract is fair, as Mr. Routledge claims. So, I call on Jonas, Shuman, Lam, Shaz, Defrance, Ramkarran, Nigel Hinds, Phyllis, Asha, Critic, and those who don’t want Guyana to remain a “shole” country to step up at such a time as this. Even the disgruntled PNC supporters can join this cause. What if we put together a team with all those lawyers who fought the PNC rigging to examine the oil contract? Imagine Devendra Kissoon, Datadin, and Anil together fighting for Guyana’s oil and its poor, destitute, huddled masses yearning for that good life? Imagine the churches, unions, teachers, nurses, UG students, market vendors, government workers, and NGOs joining this movement. If not you, who? If not now, when?” Our newspapers are doing their job “standing in the gap” for the nation. The rest of us need to do our share too. Please sign that petition from the Oil and Gas Network folks calling for a renegotiation of the Exxon contract. (OGGN – www.oggn.org; petition found at
Dr. Jerry Jailall