On October 7, 2016, the coalition Government entered into a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with ExxonMobil. The contract which contains the controversial US$460M pre-contract costs only gives the government a two-year deadline to do cost audits. This means that the government has up to October 7, 2018, to audit the sum.
In spite of this short timeline, the government has made no move the audit the sum which is believed to be inflated by some US$90M.
But Minister of State, Joseph Harmon still tried earlier today to paint the image that his government is “serious” about resolving the matter.
At his post Cabinet press briefing, the Cabinet Secretary said, “Minister (of Finance Winston) Jordan did publically state that we have a capacity issue which we acknowledge, we accept that. But that apart, we are in fact, we just set up the Department of Energy and we are in fact looking at these matters because you know there is a timeline within which these matters have to be done before first oil.”
Harmon continued, “We are aware of some local capacity, we are aware that there is some capacity in the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). You recognized also in one of my statements earlier that the Commissioner General of GRA, Godfrey Statia will be attending a forum in the United Kingdom to deal with these issues. Also, you would have heard me speak about a sum of US$1.6M dedicated towards oil and gas capacity building.”
The Cabinet Secretary added, “…Whether it (our behaviour or approach on the matter) is aggressive or not, I don’t know, you have your own benchmark. But at the level of government, we are looking at this very carefully…We are concerned about these matters.”
Questioned about the deadline for auditing the pre-contract costs, Harmon said that this would be before first oil. He was reminded however the contract which was signed in 2016 leaves the nation with a 2018 deadline.
To this, he said, “The audits in my view, in my reading, is that it can take place anytime before first oil…I am confident that at the appropriate time we will get the skills (needed). We are looking at local and external mechanisms.”