Take advantage of this opportunity to negotiate a better oil deal with the renewal of the Liza 1 permit

Dear Editor,

It’s not that the PPP government can’t demand a renegotiation of oil contracts. It just wouldn’t be. The PPP acts as if Exxon and his cronies own our oil and their job is to ask for a few crumbs at the table of the oil masters. Contracts contain a clause that the contract can be revised as long as both parties agree. The government did not say whether it had asked for a review, and the oil companies refused. The government has said it will not renegotiate oil contracts – an unfulfilled election promise, which could come to bite them in 2025, as they hang on a one-seat majority in parliament. We will not forget the betrayal of the PPP on the oil renegotiation. And the momentum for renegotiation resonates with poor fishermen struggling to make ends meet, sugar plantation workers who are chained, market vendors, security guards and other destitute and vulnerable groups demanding “Where is the oil money? The work of Mr. Glenn Lall, Kaieteur News, Stabroek News and civil society groups such as “Our Wealth, Our Country”, Oil and Gas Governance Network (www.OGGN.org), TIGI, Article 21 and d other freelance writers, has a cumulative effect in helping Guyanese understand that we have a rotten oil deal and that the PNC and PPP are okay with us being fucked by the oil imperialists.

Now that the “Liza 1” environmental permit expires in a few days, people are wondering if the government will use this leverage opportunity by suspending the renewal of the Liza 1 permit and negotiating a better oil deal. Now, it is a legitimate right of Guyana and its government to choose to use its leverage. Will the government use this leverage point? Will the PNC call on the government to use its leverage points, in a rare show of “One Guyana” unity, so that our “nation rich of the poor” has a chance to emerge from its persistent poverty? Guyana’s needs are enormous, and it will take a lot more money than we are currently receiving to improve all our infrastructure and provide “living wages”, increases in the cost of living, pensions for all, including including housewives and the self-employed, and more income enhancing measures.

Oil companies are also asking to extend the handover period for certain oil blocks. The waiver clause obliges oil companies to return a certain percentage of oil blocks, at specified time intervals. Abandoned blocks can be auctioned off to other oil companies and Guyana can earn more revenue. Since the oil companies are not playing well, why would the government extend the time for them to continue holding those blocks that need to be returned? If we do this for them, what will they do for us? So this is another leverage point that the government can use to get a better deal. Will the government use this leverage point for the benefit of our nation? It is one thing to blame and blame the PNC for signing a bad contract that betrayed the national heritage. It is equally bad for the PPP government not to use its legitimate leverage to get better terms from the oil companies.

The government is credited with caving in to pressure from civil society groups to audit $9 billion in spending submitted by the oil barons. We hope it will not be a token mock exercise. Civil society groups had advised the government to use the approval of the Payara project as leverage. Instead, the government terminated the EPA chief’s contract, replaced him with a replacement, and quickly approved the Payara project. Was it in the interest of Guyana or was it in the interest of the oil barons? The Government has consistently demonstrated that it is on the same side as the oil companies and the PNC against the Guyanese people. He sees to the best interests of their oil companies rather than those of the Guyanese people. Editor, for every dollar that Guyana receives, the oil companies receive 6 dollars. While the oil companies got about US$3.6 billion – TAX FREE – so far, Guyana got about US$600 million, but we paid US$725 million of their taxes. (Have we, in fact, made a loss?). What kind of monkey business is this? Is it a bargain or a gift?

We urge the government to use its leverage and not proceed with a rapid renewal of Liza 1 without environmental reforms or reforms that will give us better revenues. Oil companies’ indecent liberties with the environment – daily dumping of sewage into the ocean, continuous flaring, environmental hazards to fishing while dozens of wells are operating at the same time; inadequate insurance, etc., must be resolved now. We are waiting to see if the PPP government will stand with the people of Guyana or will stand with the oil companies and the PNC sellout. The oil companies do not vote, it is the workers who vote!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jerry Jailall