An international anti-corruption agency called “Global Witness” recently released a report which focuses mainly on Guyana’s oil and gas sector, and its arrangement with global Oil Major, ExxonMobil. The report, titled “Signed Away: How Exxon’s exploitative deal deprived Guyana of up to US$55 billion” contains several damning revelations.
The report detailed Exxon’s quest to enter a new deal after oil was discovered in May, 2015. In April 2016, Global Witness said that Exxon had a problem: it had recently found oil off the coast of Guyana, but its Guyanese license was old, shrinking, and would soon expire, putting in jeopardy the company’s increasingly valuable asset.
“Exxon needed a new deal, and it aggressively pursued one. In early April 2016, the company opened negotiations in Texas by confronting two inexperienced Guyanese officials with a new draft license to be signed within ten weeks…Exxon did not want to change the favorable financial terms from its 1999 license, despite having recently found significant oil reservoirs that would customarily allow the government to ask for more. Exxon also said that until it got a deal the company would stop developing its oil fields – risking the future of Guyana’s new oil sector and the much-needed revenue it would generate,” the report stated.
Global Witness believes Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman presented Exxon with “feeble” negotiation terms and ignored expert advice that more financial information was needed before he signed the license.