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Guyana's President lack of transparency in oil sector widens

Kaieteur News

Irfaan Ali President of Guyana

By Kiana Wilburg / Kaieteur News

GEORGETOWN
Petroleumworld 09 20 2021

After one year in office, the Irfaan Ali administration has still done little to set itself apart from its predecessor on the disclosure of information, all the while maintaining a tight political grip on the sector. Despite his claim that his government has been transparent, a deficit still persists and widens.

Just recently, ExxonMobil disclosed that it has submitted its local content report for the first half of 2021 to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Why hasn’t this report been released so that the public can conduct its own verification process and hold the oil giant to account?

Also hidden from public scrutiny are ExxonMobil’s production reports in the Stabroek Block, the results of the audit for the US$460M Exxon said was spent pre-2015 in search of oil as well as the US$1B in expenses that was spent to develop the Liza Phase One operations. The report that was done on the Payara Field Development plan by controversial Canadian politician, Alison Redford, also remains hidden from the public eye. Below are other key tasks in the oil sector which auger well for transparency but have not been completed by the Ali administration.

1) Complete the Local Content Policy.

2) Putting in place appropriate and independent technology offshore to monitor the measurement of oil remotely.

3) Outline benchmarks for Corporate Social Responsibility.

4) Establish a Depletion Policy in consultation with the citizenry.

5) Establish a Decommissioning Policy.

6) Outline a structure for what is to be expected in Field Development Plans.

7) Strengthen key auditing agencies, specifically the Office of the Auditor General.

8) Strengthen institutions that will be responsible for the expenditure of the oil money-including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the Ministry of Health.

9) Improve Guyana’s capacity to monitor and record emissions offshore, particularly in the case of the Environmental Protection Agency.

10) Provide resources to the EPA so that it can make unannounced visits to the FPSOs while following safety standards.

11) Hire technical experts needed within the Ministries of Natural Resources, EPA, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), etc.

12) Review massive tax concessions/tax holidays. Example: provisions in oil contracts that allow tax exemptions on capital gains tax, personal income tax and withholding tax.

13) Update policies/laws/regulations regarding direct and indirect transfers of interests in offshore blocks.

14) Establish a Petroleum Commission.

15) Implement software solutions for compliance monitoring and for operating requisite controls for expenditure of oil money.

16) Update laws and regulations to address issues of ring fencing, transfer pricing (and other financial loopholes/issues), health and safety of workers, monitoring of the environment (regarding issues such as flaring and stiffer penalties for such infractions), pre-qualification criteria for oil blocks, etc.

17) Strengthen and increase systems for reporting on decisions in the oil and gas industry.

18) Oil Sale Agreements.


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