Opposition wants longer consultation period on new oil contracts

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The main political opposition is calling for a longer consultation period on the two new oil contracts released this week by the government so that it can peruse the documents in greater detail.

Economics Advisor to the Opposition Leader, Elson Lowe on Thursday said the current two-week period is insufficient to entirely peruse the new oil contracts for deepwater and shallow water areas.

“An agreement of this magnitude should be subject to a much longer period of public scrutiny and be laid in the National Assembly,” Lowe said during a virtual press conference hosted by Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton.

The contracts were released on Tuesday and will be used for new arrangements with oil companies participating in the auction of 14 oil blocks in shallow and deepwater areas offshore Guyana.

Following the release of these contracts, the government has launched a 14-day consultation period. As such, individuals or groups are asked to make submissions on the new contracts.

Lowe noted that these contracts could potentially govern an exorbitant sum of money in the coming years. As such, he posited that greater examination is necessary.

Asked if the opposition will be examining the contracts, Lowe confirmed that opposition members are currently reviewing the document and will provide a “comprehensive” assessment of it when that review is completed.

Because of a lopsided Production Sharing Agreement (oil contract) between Guyana and an ExxonMobil-led consortium for the prolific Stabroek Block, the government said it is keen on guaranteeing that future deals augur greater benefits for Guyana.

Guyana’s President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, said these new model Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) would be released to the public.

When the contracts were released this week, a statement from the Ministry of Natural Resources noted that they are part of efforts to update Guyana’s petroleum management.

“To ensure new investments are governed by a comprehensive framework of international best practices, the Model Petroleum Agreements will be followed by an overhaul of the 1986 Petroleum Act and Regulations,” the ministry’s statement said.

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