GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The US-based oil giant, ExxonMobil has confirmed that it paid over US$18 million as a signing bonus to the Guyana government.
“Let me say that signing bonuses are customary and normal in many petroleum agreements, not all, but in many around the world as part of the total financial agreement,” said ExxonMobil country manager, Rod Henson, on Sunday night.
ExxonMobil, whose affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) holds an interest and is the operator in the Stabroek, Canje and Kaieteur Blocks, offshore Guyana, recently announced that it made a fifth new oil discovery after drilling the Turbot-1 well offshore Guyana.
Henson, said the money was paid over to a Bank of Guyana account which was set up by the Guyana government insisting that it was paid “not to an individual but to a government bank account designated by the Ministry of Finance” last year.
The David Granger administration has come under criticism over its silence on the issue, initially indicating that no signing bonus was paid, but rather it was money to assist Guyana in its border case against Venezuela.
Henson said it was a signing bonus but his company has no say in what the government decides to do with the money. He reminded that as a commercial entity, Exxon would have no role in determining how Guyana should spend the money.
“In terms of transparency, though, disclosure of these terms is something that should be consistent across the industry instead of one company”.
Henson noted that as Guyana undergoes measures to become a full-fledged member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), “these types of payments will be made public as part of that process.”
Exxon is a founder of the EITI process which requires all extractive industries: oil, mining, and forestry, to disclose monies it pays to the government. Likewise, the government discloses monies received and an independent third party evaluates and validates the information and publishes it.
Earlier this month, the government announced that it would be releasing the contract signed with Exxon before the end of this year. – CMC