Vice President, Dr.Bharrat Jagdeo disclosed yesterday that while he has no issue with an independent probe of the award of the Kaieteur and Canje blocks by former president, Donald Ramotar back in 2015, he does not believe that any form of corruption took place. The official made these and other comments following questions that were posed at a press conference held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. There, Jagdeo was asked to say if he would follow through with comments he would have made as Opposition Leader in support of an independent probe of how the blocks were given out.
In this regard, Jagdeo said that he has asked for internal documents to be prepared on this matter. He said that the briefs are expected to provide information on the timelines of discussions and dates of incorporation of the companies that acquired the blocks. The Vice President said, “As I said before, I don’t personally have an objection to any review because I believe then and now that no corruption was involved because I know the individuals… I believe it was the era when people were very liberal with the issuance of licences because we had not found oil as yet, we are very liberal in that entire era which we wouldn’t do today, because after oil…”
While the briefs are being prepared, the Vice President said that the government is making efforts to understand the ownership structure of companies that own the blocks. He said that this is being done to ascertain who the beneficial owners are. Should there be political persons involved; Jagdeo alluded to the fact that he would have no qualms with a probe being done. Until then, he said that this matter has to be approached in sequential order, starting with the briefs. Jagdeo said that he has every intention of ensuring that media operatives have the right information at their disposal about this matter since all he has seen thus far is speculation. The Vice President said he is yet to see a shred of evidence that proves that corruption took place.
The Vice President said, “…Questions are being asked but not a shred of evidence has come forward from the international groups too, to say – and a lot of them came to Guyanatoo. Global Witness was here. Global Witness has a lot of reach globally, and not a shred of evidence to say that we can trace that there has been, you know, money or anything was done illegally. And as I said before, I’m convinced from knowing (former President, Donald) Ramotar, etc., that there was no corruption.”
OWNERS OF THE BLOCKS
The Kaieteur Block is operated by ExxonMobilwhich holds 35 percent of the working interest in the block. It was first signed off to Ratio Energy and Ratio Petroleum which is headquartered in Israel. Hess Corporation also farmed into the block and holds a 15 percent working interest.
With respect to the Canje block, it is also operated by ExxonMobil but was first owned by Mid Atlantic Oil & Gas Inc.(MOGI) which now has 12.5 percent of the interest. Also holding a working interest is JHI Associates Inc. (JHI) with 17.5 percent and Total with 35percent.