Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161

Discretion, if not wisdom, suggests to any public official who mis-cites himself, misrepresents the facts on which he makes false claims, accuses others of amnesia and of stupidity, that at the very least, he should just stay silent, if not apologise. Expressed another way is the rule that when you are in a hole, you stop digging. Mr. Aubrey Norton seems unfamiliar with these common sense principles.

In his letter in the Stabroek News of yesterday’s date, Mr. Norton describes as “the summit of stupidity”, the question by attorney-at-law, Mr. Kamal Ramkarran, on how he, Norton voted on the constitutional amendment to article 161 in 2000. Mr. Norton goes on to lecture Mr. Ramkarran that “you don’t vote in such circumstances—the Speaker merely notes that the ayes have it.” Continue reading Mr Norton voted in favour of the bill on Article 161

Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso

The debate on the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution has continued, with increased intensity, following the rejection of lists of eighteen persons named by the Leader of the Opposition and the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson by President Granger. Unfortunately some writers have made claims that are at best incomplete, or are otherwise unsupported by facts.

Mr. Tacuma Ogunseye, WPA executive member in another section of the print media refers to Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine’s advocacy at the level of the WPA Executive of the “need to revisit the Carter formula” and that Roopnaraine had reminded the Executive “that the Carter Model was never intended to be a permanent arrangement and it had outlived its usefulness.” Former General Secretary of the PNC and member of Parliament and now Government functionary, Mr. Aubrey Norton, seeking to justify the President’s unilateral decision, writes that “Jagdeo and PPP laid basis to move away from Carter Formula and it has come back to haunt them”, a claim challenged by Mr. Kamal Ramkarran in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek. Perhaps a little bit of history of the Constitution and the Elections Commission will help. Continue reading Mr Norton was wrong about the date of the GECOM proviso

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 23)

Indonesia explores new model

Indonesia, the country that is credited with giving the petroleum world the petroleum production sharing agreement (PSC) in the nineteen sixties, now seems to be walking away from the model. Under that model, the profit determined after deducting prospecting, exploration, production and operating costs is shared between the host state and the oil company in agreed percentages. Not surprisingly, disputes over what could and could not be deducted were frequent. So from the beginning of this year, that country took a huge step toward eradicating the cost recovery regime for upstream cooperation contracts.

To be clear, the new rules do not affect contracts signed prior to that date. The new system, called the Gross Split Production Sharing Contracts sets out a new economic structure for production sharing contracts (“PSC”) based on dividing gross production between the state and PSC Contractors, without a mechanism for the PSC Contractor to recover operating costs. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 23)

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 22)

Oil and the Environment

The title of this week’s column is borrowed from a presentation by Annette Arjoon-Martins, Mr. Anand Goolsarran and Ms. Melinda Janki held at Moray House last evening. Annette is of course particularly known for her work with the community in Region One at Shell Beach in protecting marine turtles. Goolsarran is a former Auditor General of Guyana who also served the United Nations in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, which probably required as much of a skill in auditing as in dodging bullets. Melinda Janki is an attorney-at-law specialising in international environmental law and indigenous and human rights who has also worked for a number of international oil companies.

Not surprisingly, there was much discussion on the environmental permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency to Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Limited (ExxonMobil) which should see the oil giant and its two JV partners begin to pump oil in 2020. Melinda Janki was adamant that given the weaknesses identified in the documents submitted by ExxonMobil for the issue of an Environmental Permit, the permit that has been issued should be revoked. The documentation comprises an Environmental Impact Assessment, Technical Appendices, Environmental and Socio-Economic Management Plan and Oil Spill Response Plan. Citing statistics and information contained in the documents, Ms. Janki is convinced that a case can be made for the Environmental Permit to be set aside by the Court! Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 22)

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 21)

EITI Admission

That troublesome confidentiality provision in the law and the Petroleum Agreement has once more attracted attention with the announcement that Guyana is now officially the 53rd candidate country of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Officially, EITI is aimed at openness around the governance of natural resources and one would have expected that the admission of Guyana was as a result of commitments made by the country concerning such openness. It is difficult to reconcile openness with the refusal to provide the country, the National Assembly or the individual Coalition Partners with any information on the Petroleum Agreement signed by Minister Trotman in August 2016.

Readers of this column are aware of my strong conviction that there was absolutely no reason for a new Petroleum Agreement with Esso and its joint venture partners. The Agreement lasts the entire duration of the Prospecting Licence and the Production Licence so the question or the mystery is the reason for a new Agreement. A source has indicated to me that the reason is not as mysterious as it may seem. Indeed, the explanation offered to me is very simple. The Government of Guyana used the excuse of a new licence to extract a signature bonus, a payment made by a contractor on the signing of an Agreement to take up any given number of blocks. The figure I have been told is twenty million United States Dollars. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 21)