“A wishy-washy justification for ineptitude” was how Vice President (VP) Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, described former Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman’s new book ‘From Destiny to Prosperity’. The publication holds Trotman’s “truth” about the circumstances that led to the highly criticized Stabroek Block Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) back in 2016.
In the book, Trotman said he was hopeful that a Commission of Inquiry would have been constituted on the oil sector so that he could speak freely and set the record straight on a number of issues. Since this did not occur, he felt compelled and encouraged by others to write.
During his press briefing today, the Vice President revealed that while he has not read Trotman’s book as yet, he will.
Jagdeo said, “But from what I read publicly, this guy (Trotman), said (Exxon) told him not to criticise the contract. Can you imagine any self-respecting man saying that ‘oh I signed it, but Exxon told me not to criticize it ? It tells you about the leadership of the (A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change APNU + AFC Coalition) and how they defended our national interest.”
Trotman served as a minister under the APNU + AFC Coalition government between 2015 and 2020.
In 2016, Trotman was the one who signed the heavily criticised lopsided Production Sharing Agreement for the Stabroek Block with Exxon. The deal Trotman signed, waives all taxes from the oil companies, gives Guyana a 2% royalty on its rich resources, and agrees to the oil companies recovering 75% of investments before the remaining 25% (called profit oil) is shared, with Guyana receiving 12.5%.
Now, some seven years after signing that agreement, Trotman in his book expressed the view that “no contract is inviolable and therefore can be renegotiated.” He said in his book that if the government wishes to move in the direction to get better terms, his support is there. Trotman also expressed his regret for heeding Exxon’s advice to not criticise the PSA when he signed it.
Jagdeo was keen to note however that Exxon could never bring such talks to him.
Jagdeo said, “You think Exxon could ever dare bring up something like that with me to tell me, oh don’t say this in the public domain? Do you think that would ever happen? This guy is proud to say that Exxon told him not to criticize the contract, what kind of people are these? And to think that he was defending our national interest at that time.”
The Vice President revealed that when the contract was made public he had a discussion with Former President David Granger, expressing his discontentment with the Exxon deal.
He underscored that at the time the deal was signed Exxon had already made a commercial discovery of 3 billion barrels of proven oil. He continued, “They (APNU + AFC government) had a greater bargaining tool at that time and they didn’t leverage it.”
“So really when you look at the sad state that they put us in and then this guy (Trotman) will come out now to say that you can renegotiate now because I had a change of heart, and they told him at that time not to say anything… how credible can these people be ?” Jagdeo said.
He added, “I believe it will be another set of wishy-washy kind engagement of what took place, or justification of the ineptitude that we witnessed as a country by the APNU+AFC.”