Big oil can influence Govts, but not the people - Guyana's Petroleum advisor
Advisor to President David Granger on Petroleum, Dr. Jan Mangal has outlined the power of the people to make their voices heard about what is taking place in the oil and gas sector, especially as it relates to the 2016 Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) signed between the Government and ExxonMobil. Dr. Mangal made the declaration in response to questions from students of the University of Guyana following an in-depth presentation on the Government of Guyana's Vision for the Oil and Gas Sector.
“What you will find is that oil companies… and this is not looking at Guyana, are very powerful, and experts in everything they do. They know how to influence Governments to a T. However, they can't influence people. The only thing they are scared of are people. That's why it is important for Guyanese to have an intelligent debate,” Dr. Mangal stated.
Responding to several questions which highlighted a number of shortcomings in the PSA, Mangal stated that a lot of people in Guyana are questioning who negotiated on Guyana's behalf. The PSA was released in December, and since then there have been daily debates about the provisions of the contract, with growing concern that Guyana did not get a fair deal. “What I would say is, let's see how the public debate goes on over the next couple of months,” Mangal noted.
The Presidential advisor is on record, pointing out that zero taxes on oil and the two percent royalties in the PSA is not the international norm for oil agreements. “We can all sit down and talk about it. The way I would be more happy and you would be more happy as well, is if a process was followed and we knew who was involved, and we knew their competencies and their expertise… and they were respected… and that they went out there to bat for Guyana and they did the best they could,” Mangal pointed out.
ExxonMobil is a multinational corporation with powerful reach which was run for a number of years by Rex Tillerson, the current United States Secretary of State. Mangal has pointed out that regardless of how powerful the company is, the people's view will weigh on the decision makers of the country. Dr. Mangal is a Guyanese who has spent 18 years in the industry, 13 of them with Chevron working on major oil and gas projects in the United States, West Africa and Asia. Amid growing calls for the contract to be renegotiated, Dr. Mangal noted that contracts should always be reviewed as new information becomes available.
“Contracts are always changed. A contract is an agreement between two people. Both parties need to be comfortable. If one party becomes really uncomfortable it will be changed,” Dr. Mangal pointed out. He stated that the question of renegotiating the contract is one that the people of Guyana must answer. According to Dr. Mangal, the focus last year was to get the ExxonMobil contract released to the public. He expressed his happiness that the information is out there and people are doing the analysis for themselves.
Article adapted from: http://www.petroleumworld.com/story18020905.htm
- The University of Guyana