Nandlall condemns Trotman’s “signal” to breach ExxonMobil contract

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Opposition Parliamentarian, Anil Nandlall has condemned what he believes is a signal by Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman to breach the ExxonMobil contract when it comes to the prohibition of impromptu visits to the offshore operations.

Minister Trotman last week said the Government will make impromptu inspections to ExxonMobil’s offshore operations even though the contract mandates prior notice.

Article 9 (e) of the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) says “the Minister, through duly appointed representatives, upon providing the contractor with at least seven (7) days’ notice, shall be entitled to observe the petroleum operations conducted by the contractor at his sole cost and expense and at all reasonable times to inspect all assets, records and data kept by the Contractor relating to such petroleum operations. In the exercise of such rights under this paragraph the Minister shall not unduly interfere with the Contractor’s petroleum operations under this agreement.”

As such, Nandlall said that Mr Trotman’s statement is worrying as it signals an intention to violate the contract.

“It sends a terrible signal that you have entered into a contract, as up-sided as it is, you have said publicly that you are refusing to renegotiate the contract and now at the same time, you are sending a signal that you are going to breach the contract. What really is the government’s position?” Nandlall said during an interview with News Room today.

Mr Trotman, in his explanation, had noted that an immediate visit would be necessary if the Government suspects that there is an illegal act being committed.

But Mr Nandlall said that ExxonMobil, as stated in the contract, reserves the right to reject any government official who visits without giving notice.

“I don’t know how Minister Trotman intends to get around the clear language of the contract unless they are going to use brute force to violate the contract,” he said.

The Ministry of Natural Resources in a subsequent statement responded to Mr Nandlall but it did not address the issue he highlighted.

Instead, the Ministry contended that if Mr Nandlall had an issue with the “notice clause”, he could have made the necessary changes when he was Attorney General.

“It is indeed bizarre and hypocritical that Mr Nandlall would seek to comment. Had he had an issue with these requirements why did he not advise against their inclusion? Does Mr Nandlall have no memory of his advice and actions when in Government?” the statement outlined.

But the concern is the fact that despite the “notice clause”, Minister Trotman is saying that the Government is prepared to defy that and conduct impromptu visits.

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