It was Attorney at Law and Chartered Accountant ,Christopher Ram who said that Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman should have been fired for allowing ExxonMobil to keep its acreage offshore Guyana. Ram contended that it was illegal for Trotman to do so. However, Trotman is of the opinion that he acted justly and in keeping with the law.
During the tenure of the PPP, ExxonMobil was given 600 blocks. This is ten times more than the law stipulates. The law also says that at every request for a renewal, an oil company is expected to relinquish half of the oil blocks it started with. But the PPP made an adjustment to the contract, thereby allowing the company to hold on to the 600 oil blocks.
In the new agreement that was signed under the Granger administration, Trotman failed to address or redress the aforementioned problems.
Taking this into account, Ram went on to on describe Trotman as a liability to Guyana.
However, Trotman sought to defend his actions during his most recent appearance before the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources.
Addressing PPP/C Parliamentarian, Odinga Lumumba, who is the Chairman of the Sectoral Committee , Trotman said, “I see much writings about it being illegal. But if you will permit me sir, I just wish to point out to you that the law does allow for the responsible minister to permit the company a certain amount of acreage.”
Trotman quoted Section 13 of the Petroleum Regulation which says, “The Minister may consider any allocation with respects of more than 60 blocks if the minister is satisfied that special circumstance exist for doing so.”
Trotman told the Sectoral Committee that he is convinced that “special circumstances so existed in 1999 when the then government saw it fit to give Exxon concessions from Barima Waini to Corentyne and we believe that those circumstances did not diminish or disappear in 2016. In fact, those circumstances got deeper when Venezuela said that the Liza well was theirs. So we believe that it continue to be strategic to ensure that the Exxon block remains exact as it was in 1999.”
When Ram spoke about the illegality of Trotman’s actions, he indeed acknowledged that special circumstances can allow a company to be allotted more that the stated 60 blocks. Ram however noted that it would be extremely difficult to justify giving a company 10 times the number stipulated in the law.