President Granger promises accountability, openness with Exxon

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Even though his government is stoutly refusing to provide full disclosure on its oil contract with ExxonMobil, President David Granger on Wednesday promised accountability and openness in its relationship with the super-major.

Granger, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP), said the government will be working with ExxonMobil to develop “a long-term relationship, which is founded on transparency, accountability, openness and aligned interests for the good of Guyana.”

The Head of State made these comments during a meeting with a visiting delegation of ExxonMobil executives at State House to discuss matters related to the status of exploratory and appraisal work in the Stabroek Block as well as the relationship between the Government and the company.

The President also noted that it is important that Guyanese be involved, especially in the mainstream opportunities, which are available in the industry.

“We have got to keep the public informed to ensure that civil society does not feel that there is some underhand relationship, which is injurious to the country. We want to make the right steps and we are looking to see that the population gets the education they need to participate in this industry. We are looking to ensure that this industry generates employment for our people and, as part of our partnership, I hope that we can have a programme, which can help to educate Guyanese on this industry,” he was quoted as saying in the MOTP release.

According to the release, President Granger said that at the end of the process, Guyanese must be able to view the development of a petroleum industry as one that is beneficial to the national interest.

“We are at the start of an oil and gas industry and we want to ensure that our people are involved… We are happy with the way things are going so far and we want to assure you of the Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability. We take decisions at the Cabinet level and then those decisions are taken to the National Assembly and we do not see that process changing. All Guyanese must feel involved in the process,” the President said.

To ensure a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship, the President said that the Government is working to develop the requisite framework and strengthen capacity in areas, which establishes and maintains good governance.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge also assured the executives of Government’s commitment to the process of building an open and transparent relationship with the corporation. Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, also attended the meeting and echoed the President’s sentiments, stating that the engagement is part of an ongoing dialogue that aims to strengthen the relationship between Guyana and ExxonMobil for the benefit of the Guyanese people.

Meanwhile, Darren Woods, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil Corporation, in an invited comment, described the meeting as fruitful, noting that the Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability was discussed in detail.

According to the release, he said that the administration’s commitment is welcomed since the company’s interests and aims are in alignment with this.

“I think it is a very productive conversation that we just had. The Government is looking to make sure that we develop the resources and that we do it the right way that can benefit the community and the people of Guyana. We are very committed to that ourselves and we had a lot of discussions and dialogue to see how best we can do that to benefit ExxonMobil, the Government and the people of Guyana,” he was quoted as saying.

Woods said that ExxonMobil remains committed to its investments in Guyana and is swiftly moving ahead with its production plans.

The meeting was also attended by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; and Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin on the Government’s side while ExxonMobil’s executives present at the meeting were Kimberly Brasington, ExxonMobil’s Guyana Senior Director of Public and Government Affairs; Country Manager and Project Executive, Rod Henson; and Carlton James, Director, Government Relations, Guyana.

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