Guyana's draft Petroleum Commission Bill stymies full disclosure of data
Petroleumworld 03 05 2018
There are key provisions in Guyana's draft Petroleum Commission Bill that could stymie the full disclosure of data to the citizenry.
According to the draft bill, the Commission would be empowered to monitor and regulate the efficient, safe, effective and environmentally responsible exploration, development and production of petroleum in Guyana.
The Board is also expected to submit to the Minister, as soon as practicable but not later than two months after the end of each financial year, a report detailing the activities and operations of the Commission during the year to which the report relates including audited accounts.
The report is expected to contain information including, but not limited to open areas for petroleum exploration and production, petroleum prospecting licences issued and relinquished, petroleum activities conducted, including, but not limited to, data acquisition and the drilling of wells, exploration, appraisal, development and production (volume of oil and gas produced) phases of the petroleum value chain, local content and local participation in petroleum activities, the status of development and production activities under each licence, health, safety and environment, and royalty and fees paid by operators.
( Other information which should be included in this report could be seen by following this link:https://www.nre.gov.gy/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/PETROLEUM-COMMISSION-BILL.pdf )
But here is the interesting twist; the draft legislation says that only a SUMMARY of the annual report would be prepared and statement of accounts shall be published on the website of the Commission for public notice.
And that is not all; officers of the Commission and Board members are not allowed to disclose any information they obtained during the course of their work. Failure to observe this and the said person would be saddled with a fine of $5 million and imprisonment for three years
In comparison to 12 other nations, Ghana and Nigeria included, the strict provisions in Guyana's draft legislation would appear to be “non-standard”.
In fact, one international oil and gas specialist who spoke with this newspaper indicated that Ghana's Petroleum Commission is supportive of the prompt disclosure of information. As such, it has an online register.
According to the website ( https://www.ghanapetroleumregister.com/ ), the laws of that African state dictate that there must be public disclosure of information as it comes in. In fact, Section 56 of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of Ghana states, “The Commission shall establish and maintain a register of petroleum agreements, licences, permits and authorizations as prescribed. The register shall be open to the public.”
The oil and gas expert said that this way, users of the site can monitor the decisions made by the Commissioners “as well as implement the level of scrutiny that is needed from any democratic society.”
The official said that offices such the Petroleum Commission should always be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny.
Support for this sentiment has been echoed by anticorruption advocates around the world time and again. It was even the infamous American computer professional, Edward Snowden who said, “There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny –they should be setting the example of transparency.”
Story from Kaieter News
Kaieteurnewsonline.com 03 03 2018
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