Jagdeo Slams Trotman’s Explanation on Renegotiated ExxonMobil Contract

Bharrat Jagdeo

Says Trotman Admits that Interests of Guyanese People Were
not the Driving Force Behind Renegotiation of the Contract

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA (CITIZENS REPORT) — Responses from Minister Raphael Trotman to questions raised during last Friday’s meeting of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources indicate that the renegotiation of the ExxonMobil contract was not based on national considerations or what is good for Guyana and the Guyanese people.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, proffered this view at his news conference on Thursday at his Church Street office. He noted that Trotman admitted that the Coalition Government initiated the renegotiation of the contract and the move was based on threats to Guyana’s territorial integrity by Venezuela.

During the last Friday’s meeting, PPP/C Parliamentarian, Odinga Lumumba specifically asked Trotman, “Who initiated the changes to the 2016 agreement?” Trotman responded, “The Government of Guyana did.” Lumumba asked, “Why?” Trotman responded, “We did it because of the threat of Venezuela.”

Jagdeo questioned Trotman’s response and pointed out that a renegotiated contract was not needed to keep ExxonMobil from continuing its work since oil was already discovered. “You did not need a new contract to keep Exxon in that geographic area…ExxonMobil had already found oil, they were going to drill in any case in that same location,” he said.

According to him, the controversial clauses were not addressed significantly. “When he was asked about the stability clause he said it was plucked from somewhere,” Jagdeo said.

The Opposition Leader added, “…I think all of Guyana paid careful attention to the hearing convened by the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources. At that meeting, Trotman sought to explain the thinking behind the renegotiated contract signed with ExxonMobil. All of Guyana was hoping that the Minister would explain some of the very contentions clauses and how they managed to find themselves in the contract. I must say I was disappointed.”

Moreover, he noted the worrying admission that there is “no paper trail” regarding the Coalition Government’s engagement with ExxonMobil on significant matters.

Jagdeo noted Trotman’s comments about the government hiring an international law firm to help with the negotiations of future oil contracts, reflects what the Parliamentary Opposition has been calling for since 2015. “We have been saying that we need to get the best people in the room,” he said, adding that the Government cannot tout international experts and then ignore their advice, as was done with Government’s Petroleum Advisor, Dr Jan Mangal.

All considered, the Opposition Leader charged that the circumstances surrounding the signing of a renegotiated contract with ExxonMobil remain very murky based on the Minister’s explanations. (Citizensreport.com)