From 2015 to 2019, American oil giant, ExxonMobil has claimed that its subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) along with its subcontractors, racked up over $60B in local content expenditure. For the first half of 2020, the company said more than 14B has been spent. With oil production already on stream for more than seven months now, the American multinational is gearing to recover every cent spent on hiring and training Guyanese as well as the procurement of indigenous goods and services.
But for the five years the Granger administration was in office, not a penny of what ExxonMobil claims it spent was audited. Last year, the Department of Energy had promised that a Local Content Compliance Unit would have been established for this very purpose but that never became a reality.
The newly installed PPP/C Administration has said however that it intends to address this state of affairs along with other issues that are at the heart of having Guyanese lead the oil industry. Specifically speaking to this matter recently was Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.
The official said that discussions have been held with ExxonMobil and the company was told that it cannot claim its subcontractor’s local content efforts as its own. Jagdeo said too that there have been reports of unequal wage payments for locals and expatriates, while noting that this would have to be addressed.
The Vice President said, “…A lot of their (ExxonMobil) work is farmed out to subcontractors who operate here and who have been paying our people basically wages that are discriminatory, not comparable wage for comparable skill. And that is what we will insist on, that they must be paid fairly…”
The official said that very soon, a robust Local Content Legislation will be in place and all and sundry would have to follow it. In addition to this, he said that President Irfaan Ali has expressed a great desire to train a large number of Guyanese for the oil sector while noting that ExxonMobil would have to contribute to this since the paltry sum of US$300,000 per year that it is bound to give the country, is simply inadequate.