Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, in a high-level meeting with a U.S Congressional Delegation, said though the Government of Guyana has been criticized for its relationship” with U.S oil giant ExxonMobil, it will not budge.
“This government has been criticised for this strategic relationship, but we will not recoil or resile from our position as we are mindful not just about the income of tomorrow, but equally also, about the long term security of the state,” Minister Trotman told the U.S Congressmen, led by representative Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the presence of U.S Ambassador Perry Holloway.
Since the release of the 2016 Petroleum Sharing Agreement (PSA) it signed with Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited– a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, the Government has been heavily criticized over several aspects of the agreement – from the percentage of royalty to the signature bonus and on issues such as local-content provisions.
Despite a mountain of criticisms, the Natural Resources Minister on Wednesday while at his Duke Street, Kingston Office, assured that Government’s relationship with ExxonMobil will remain intact as he lauded the relationship the country shares with the United States of America.
“We are not unaware of the high geo-strategic value that our relationship with the United States offers both our countries, and this government intends to preserve it, even as we enjoy good relations with others,” he said.
Government, Minister Trotman said, welcomes the entrance and involvement of American companies in the extractives sector and ExxonMobil is just but one of the primary strategic national development partners. “American business and interests can rest assured that we will not nationalise their interests or take actions inimical to them,” he assured.
It was noted that the US Governmen, through the Embassy here in Georgetown, provided much -needed support to the Guyanese Government by helping to lay the foundation for the country’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (E.I.T.I) which would allow for transparency in the utilisation of revenues that would stream from the budding Oil and Gas Industry.
“We are pleased to announce that with your support, and that of the World Bank, we qualified for membership of the body last year. And then there is the Energy Governance Capacity Initiative (EGCI), an initiative of the US Department of State, that has produced for us research papers and recommendations in the areas of Fiscal Policy and Accounting, establishing a Model Petroleum Contract, best features for a National Oil Company, and Economic Modelling and Analysis of Contracts to name a few,” Minister Trotman pointed out to the Congressmen.
Describing the visit by the U.S Congressional Delegation as a significant one, the Natural Resources Minister reminded that it was in 2016 that Guyana welcomed a group of Capstone Generals from the United States’ National Defense University’s General and Flag Officer Course. “That was significant. Today, your visit has eclipsed the visit of the Capstone General’s,” he posited.
The minister also used the opportunity to give an overview of the work of his ministry and related agencies, and was also able to address questions and concerns of a national security nature. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee was accompanied by Congressmen John Rutherford, Mark Sanford, John Curtis, Todd Rokita, Richard Hudson, Steve Cohen and Scott Peters. Members of the Congressional staff and senior members of the US armed forces were also in attendance.
Minister Trotman was accompanied by Board Chairman of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Stanley Ming; National Coordinator of Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEIT), Dr. Rudy Jadoopat; and Head of Planning and Development Unit of the Guyana Forestry Commission, Pradeepa Bolonauth, among other ministry officials. Members of the ministry’s team responded to questions posed by the Congressmen on a number of issues on forestry, the environment, agro-processing and infrastructure.
This is the first time in more than three decades that a member of the US Congress has visited Guyana and the first time for such a large delegation.
The delegation was introduced to twenty-five (25) youths participating in the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Youth in Natural Resources Programme. The programme is currently in its third week. Apart from the U.S Government, the Natural Resources Ministry receives support in varying forms from the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund.