Govt fails to address plans for onshore supply base, gas project
Oil and gasHaving received some staunch criticism from the Opposition regarding its reluctance to provide information about the nascent oil and gas sector to the general public, the Government, through the Natural Resources Ministry, has responded claiming that it has done its best to provide as much information as possible.Opposition Leader Bharat JagdeoThe Natural Resources Ministry on Wednesday said that there was evidence that the Government has been more open to sharing information, engaging citizens, and accepting criticism than the previous Administration. The Ministry used the release of several oil contracts, including ExxonMobil’s, as one example of being transparent and open.In addition to making the contracts available to the public, the Ministry said that it has also conducted public outreaches throughout Guyana to inform residents of developments in the oil and gas and natural resources sector and these were ongoing. Each of these sessions, it said, was well attended and questions asked by residents were answered factually and honestly.But in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Opposition, it noted that there is still no word yet on the promised Local Content Policy. It accused Government of name-dropping titles of international agencies to somehow lend believability to the notion that it was addressing the matter diligently. But instead, Guyanese are still unaware about what the final drafts will look like and when they will be ready.In response to that particular criticism, the Ministry said in the process of developing a Local Content Policy, it has engaged a number of organisations, including five Chambers of Commerce, the University of Guyana, other ministries, professional associations, and individuals.“These engagements allowed persons the opportunity to make their contributions towards a Local Content Policy for the oil and gas sector. The second draft of the policy is now available for perusal by the public on the following websites: www.business.gov.gy and www.nre.gov.gy,” it added.In an effort to prove Government’s openness and willingness to share information, the Ministry also stated that the records of the National Assembly will show that Minister Trotman and Minister Simona Broomes have appeared before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources on several occasions, and have had frank presentations that addressed the developments in the oil and gas sector.But the Opposition had made reference to the promises of building a US$500 million onshore supply base that was supposed to be erected at Crab Island, in the Berbice River, in 2017. Additionally, the Opposition said Government has not named the village earmarked for the gas project as though it is a State secret. This particular observation was not addressed in the Government press statement.Another point raised by the Opposition was the fact that for three years, Guyanese were told about legislation coming to the National Assembly that included the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). This was supposed to come before the end of 2016, but it is now 2018 and it is still nowhere close to being finished.The Opposition had also reminded that Guyanese were told that the oil and gas sector will be treated in an apolitical manner, but were met with a Petroleum Commission Bill, which vests obscene levels of control in the hands of the Minister responsible for oil.