For well over a decade, Guyana received yearly sums from oil giant, ExxonMobil for the purpose of capacity building. But from all indications the money was not used for that purpose. As a result, less than two years away from first oil, Guyana finds itself with a deficit of the skills and expertise needed.
Speaking with the Guyana Standard yesterday, Head of ExxonMobil’s Public Affairs Department, Kimberly Brasington noted that from 1999 to 2016, ExxonMobil paid Guyana US$45,000. This is equivalent to $153M in 17 years. This was ExxonMobil obligation under the 1999 Agreement that was signed with the People’s Progressive Party Government.
Brasington also revealed that for 2017, the Government of Guyana already received a cheque for US$300,000 which is $60M. Therefore, Guyana would have received a total of $213M for capacity building.
While this sum is no extraordinary amount, there is still no record of any Guyanese being awarded a scholarship for geology or to be trained in oil and gas accounting during the years 1999 and 2015. The nation does not know where this money was lodged and what has became of it. This is despite the fact that the 1999 agreement was clear that the sums were to be used for capacity building for the oil and gas sector.
In 2016, the Government also received an US$18M signing bonus. It said that US$3M from that sum would be put aside for capacity building. The Government has no clear plan for how it intends to spend this money and in what particular areas.