The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is unafraid of any investigation that may be launched into the award of oil blocks offshore Guyana. In fact, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo welcomes it. He noted, however, that such an inquiry has to be credible, be conducted by a reputable firm, and consider not just two but all oil blocks that were given out.
Speaking to the members of the media corps at his weekly press conference, the Opposition Leader maintained that the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) is not the suitable body to conduct such a probe. The Opposition Leader insists that the body is simply too partisan and the result of any investigation it does would be coated with a political stench.
Further to this, Jagdeo outlined that the elements of any credible investigation should feature a national Terms of Reference, developed after extensive consultations with various stakeholders and for the scope of the probe to be well defined.
Additionally, the PPP General Secretary reminded that an extensive statement has been released by former President Donald Ramotar who had signed the Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) for two oil blocks, the Kaieteur and Canje, to three inexperienced firms. They are Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas Inc., Ratio Energy, and Ratio Guyana.
This matter is being investigated by SARA. It is presumed that Ramotar knew that oil was discovered by ExxonMobil which is operating on the Stabroek Block but still rushed to sign away the blocks to industry unknowns. SARA, among other things, finds this circumstance to be extremely suspicious since the two blocks that were signed away are adjacent to the oil-rich Stabroek Block and in ultra-deep waters. Very few companies in the industry have the technical capability to explore in such an environment. The three companies which received the Kaieteur and Canje Blocks never explored for oil in any part of the world.
Also central to the investigation is former Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud. Ramotar had told the media that he signed the PSAs based on the advice he received from Persaud. Asked to say if he conducted discussions with the former Minister to ascertain the details of his role in the giveaway of the oil blocks just days before the 2015 general elections, Jagdeo answered in the negative. He categorically stated that Persaud is not even part of the PPP. The Opposition Leader stressed that he can only speak on behalf of his party.
In addition to this, Jagdeo stated that the PPP did no wrongdoing as far as he is aware but if a probe happens to show that there was then the party would support action being taken. He said that this support is forthcoming even if such an exercise recommends that the licences be rescinded.