By Bibi Khatoon
Former Trinidadian Minister of Energy Kevin Ramnarine has dismissed claims that Trinidadian businesspersons are coming to Guyana to take over the local petroleum industry.
“The oil is the property of Guyana and under the Production Sharing contracts, with ExxonMobil, HESS and CNOOC and so on, so I don’t see how Trinidad could get involved in that because it is already contractually bound –the sale of the oil –and how the oil is shared.
“So from a contractual point of view, that is not possible that Trinidad will come and take your oil,” he told journalists during an online interview.
He said that the influx of Trinidadian businesses into Guyana cannot be stopped as both countries are members of the Caribbean Community which promotes free movement.
During an interview at the Georgetown Club on Tuesday, former Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud said Trinidad and Tobago has adopted a predatory approach to Guyana’s oil and gas industry.
“Trinidad and Tobago has been so far very predatory in how it has approached opportunities in the oil and gas sector in Guyana and we need to push back,” he said noting that Trinidadian companies have set up trucking services, airport taxi services and also supply commodities directly to the oil rigs offshore Guyana.
Persaud said Guyanese should be given these opportunities.
The argument of foreigners taking over the industry has championed the call for a Local Content Policy which is currently in its draft stage.
On Thursday, suggested that there should be more joint ventures, noting that this will not be seen as predatory.
“I would hope that when Trinidad companies come into Guyana they would do so through the route of forming a joint venture or some sort of joint ownership company with Guyanese businessmen…I think that approach cannot be deemed to be predatory.”
He also supported the call for more local content noting that such a policy must be enforced.
“I agree with the approach of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and other persons in Guyana…you have to put your foot down when it comes to local content,” he said.
Ramnarine added: “You have to make that case for the maximization of local content in Guyana so as much as can be done in country – should be done in country.”
Trinidad which entered the petroleum sector over a century ago has been offering assistance to the local industry.
Having earned the experience from working in the industry, the Trinidadian businesses have been rushing to Guyana, taking advantage of free movement provisions under CARICOM.
Oil production is set to begin in the first quarter of 2020.