Guyana’s regulators of the oil sector, specifically the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), has never done an independent analysis of the data being collected by ExxonMobil about the richness of the nation’s oil and gas reserves in the Stabroek Block. In light of this, Petroleum Consultant, Dr Jan Mangal, says that Guyana is at a grave disadvantage.
During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard, Dr Mangal said that when it comes to the oil industry, information is power. It is because of this reality he said that oil companies are happy when the host country does not have access to data on the reservoirs or cannot work with the data. It, therefore, allows the operator to benefit from the country’s ignorance as its plans for field development and interpretation of the geological data are accepted without challenge.
The Oil Consultant was also critical of Minister of Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman. He recalled that Trotman had responsibility for the oil sector before it was transferred from his domain to the Ministry of the Presidency in the final quarter of 2018.
Dr Mangal said, “For three years [2015 to 2018], Minister Trotman did not build the required capacity, in effect keeping Guyana ignorant so the oil companies could benefit instead of the people of Guyana. It was his job to build GGMC’s capacity; it was his job to hire dozens of petroleum professionals which we still do not have. He should answer for this.”
The consultant then turned his attention to the implications of Guyana’s inability to conduct independent reviews of data submitted by ExxonMobil. Dr Mangal noted that Guyana has a dire need for cheap and reliable power. In this regard, he said that bringing the natural gas to shore via a pipeline is critical. He noted however that Guyana cannot make its own plans for gas because it does not have its own analysis of the data. Dr Mangal highlighted that Guyana’s authorities are unaware of how much gas there is and how the profile will change over the years.
The former presidential advisor said, “Guyana should be tracking the reservoir data and coming up with its own predictions of production of oil and gas so that it is able to challenge whatever is put to them by Exxon as well as work along with the company while being aware of what needs to be done.”
Dr Mangal said, too, that if Minister Trotman had insisted at an early stage on Guyana having the capacity to do independent analysis, the first Field Development Plans for the Liza Phase One Project would have seen input from the nation’s authorities. The official said, too, that Guyana would have probably had a natural gas pipeline being built right now.
Dr Mangal opined too that the government and the new Energy Department should not have approved the second project, Liza Phase Two, without real movement on the gas pipeline project. The consultant stressed that Guyana can only benefit from its oil if it has control over its data and only if it slows the pace of ExxonMobil.