During his customary weekly press conference held yesterday, Jagdeo stressed that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the main tax regulator in Guyana, has recommended the finalization of the audit of expenses incurred by ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Limited (EEPGL) from 1999 to 2017, which has uncovered US$214 million in questionable spending.

This move to entrust GRA with reviewing the audit and providing its perspective on the findings reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring a technical, rather than a political, evaluation of the situation, according to Jagdeo.

It must be noted however, that the Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat raised concerns over an employee from the Petroleum Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources engaging with ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary regarding the audit and the disputed US$214 million expenses. Minister Bharrat asserted that this engagement should not have occurred.

Jagdeo offered further clarity, noting that the GRA is the authority responsible for handling the audit, and discussions with Exxon after GRA’s recommendation to conclude the audit should not have taken place, according to Vice President Jagdeo.

It’s worth noting that there have been reports suggesting that the disputed costs might be reduced to around US$11 million based on additional documentation provided by Exxon. Nonetheless, the GRA’s guidance remains paramount in this matter.

This audit has been deemed historic, marking the first examination of cost claims by ExxonMobil Guyana Limited, previously known as Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), for the pre-production period. Initiated in 2019, it aims to scrutinize ExxonMobil’s expenses totaling US$1.6 billion between 1999 and 2017. Simultaneously, another audit initiated in 2022, covering the oil company’s US$7.3 billion expenditure from 2018 to 2020, is still in progress.

Vice President Jagdeo, in a previous press conference acknowledged the prolonged duration of the audit but emphasized that essential technical work is ongoing. He was at the time addressing the staffing challenges at GRA, assuring that Commissioner General Godfrey Statia would personally oversee the matter without Cabinet intervention. Jagdeo also noted that skilled auditors were seeking high remuneration, suggesting that this issue needs to be addressed if it affects the agency’s operations.

While the government expresses concern about the extended timeline for completing the current oil audits, Jagdeo maintained that its primary focus remains on ensuring adherence to Local Content provisions. Importantly, the government affirms its commitment not to interfere in the technical aspects of the audit process.


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