Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 19)

Disposal of Production

Recall that under a production sharing contract, costs are deducted from the value of production to arrive at profit oil to be shared between the contractor and the Government of Guyana in the proportion set out in the contract: Article 11.6. The contractor is also permitted to use as much production as needed in the operations and within the transportation and terminal system.

If the reader thinks that the system is becoming complicated and therefore subject to dispute, it gets even trickier since there may also be some third party usage of the transportation terminal systems. Where there is such third party usage, the quantities so used or lost outside of the contract area is proportionate to the aggregate use of the that system and the value is excluded from any calculations under Article 11. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 19)

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 18)

Trotman and Turbot

The good news

This column keeps meeting distractions from week to week. Column 17 last week indicated that Articles 12 Natural Gas and 13 Valuation of Crude Oil would be addressed later in this series. They will have to wait as we turn to two issues taking place this week, one the good news and the other the bad stuff. Let us start with the good news first. Yesterday October 5, ExxonMobil Corporation announced yet another oil discovery offshore Guyana. This means that since the May 2015 announcement of a huge find we have had four other finds. Liza, Payara, Snoek and Liza Deep, and now Turbot. The well was drilled to 18,445 feet (5,622 meters) in 5,912 feet (1,802 meters) of water on Sept. 29, 2017. The Turbot-1 well is located in the southeastern portion of the Stabroek Block, approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the southeast of the major Liza phase one project.

Guyana is blessed. All we can hope is that good and intelligent leadership and competent and careful management will ensure that we do not transform this blessing into a curse. Experience shows that nothing can be taken for granted, internationally or in Guyana. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 18)

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 17)


Today’s column looks at what is called Cost Oil, both in the petroleum industry around the world and in the Petroleum Agreements signed by Guyana with contractors. Generally the term is used to mean the expenditure which the operator can charge against income in arriving at what is called profit oil. Cost oil falls under Article 11 of the Model Petroleum Agreement which carries the broader heading “Cost Recovery and Production Sharing”. A comparison of the Model Agreement and the 1999 Agreement signed by Janet Jagan with Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (Exxon) shows that the two are identical, give or take the capitalisation of a few letters!

Here are two of the opening paragraphs extracted from the Agreement.

“11.1 Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, the Contractor shall bear and pay all contract costs incurred in carrying out petroleum operations and shall recover contract costs only from cost oil as herein provided.

“11.2 All recoverable contract costs incurred by the Contractor shall, subject to the terms and conditions of any agreement relating to Non-Associated gas made pursuant to Article 12, be recovered from the value, determined in accordance with Article 13, of a volume of crude oil (hereinafter referred to as “cost oil”) produced and sold from the contract area and limited in any month to an amount which equals [seventy-five percent (75%)] of the total production from the contract area for such month excluding any crude oil used in petroleum operations or which is lost. “Recoverable contract costs” means such costs as the Contractor is permitted to recover, as from the date they have been incurred, pursuant to the provisions of Annex C. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 17)

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 16)

Trotman’s new Agreement

Today’s column seeks to address an issue which has largely gone under the radar because Mr. Raphael Trotman, the Minister of Natural Resources has been less than forthcoming in disclosing his actions in relation to ExxonMobil since the APNU+AFC Government took office in 2015. On every occasion that Mr. Trotman was asked about ExxonMobil (Exxon) he has always answered rather evasively, and only that he had negotiated an increase in the royalty from 1 % to 2%. In my research for a Moray House presentation last Friday on the challenges and opportunities posed by the discovery of oil in offshore Guyana, I realised Mr. Trotman actually did more than that.

Some background would be useful from the following timeline.

– June 14, 1999: Petroleum Agreement and Prospecting Licence signed by President Janet Jagan as responsible Minister for approximately 600 blocks.

– Sept. 29, 2001: Exxon declares force majeure due to hostile action by Surinamese naval vessels against the CGX oil rig and drillship C.E.Thornton.

– Sept. 7, 2007 UN pronounces on Guyana/Suriname dispute.

– October 2008: Exxon lifts Force majeure status.

– October 2008: An Addendum and Extension Deed to the Petroleum Prospecting License signed, modifying the Contract Area, the relinquishment obligation, and the initial period.

– Aug. 2, 2016: Official Gazette reveals that a new agreement was signed between Guyana and Exxon and its JV partners on 27 June 2016. That document has not been released to the public or the National Assembly. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 16)

Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 15)

There is a wide variety of petroleum contracts which countries, with the single exception of the USA, may choose to adopt. The USA is unique in that the state or the Government does not have blanket ownership of petroleum resources. If it is on government land, then yes, the property with the petroleum vests in the government and so too if the petroleum exists offshore. But otherwise, petroleum found under the land owned by a person belongs to that person.

In Guyana, as in every other country, the ownership of petroleum vests in the State, whether or not the petroleum is found in private property. Section 2 of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act which was passed since 1939 vests in the State the property in petroleum existing in its natural condition in Guyana and grants the State the exclusive right of searching for and getting such petroleum. This may not be popular, nor does it seem right and the day may not be too far off when the issue is tested in our courts, whether on the basis of the technical definition of land or the constitutional right to property or on the basis of fair and adequate compensation. We will leave that discussion for another day!

We continue the discussion begun last week when we discussed the concession System /Royalty Tax System practised by some countries, particularly in the early days of petroleum production. This of course is just one of the options at Guyana’s disposal in what is described as the petroleum fiscal system. It is a term which refers to all payments to government required under a petroleum agreement and may be defined as the framework which the government of an oil producing country employs in managing, regulating and sharing the revenues that accrue from the stages of petroleum exploitation. Continue reading Every Man, Woman and Child in Guyana Must Become Oil-Minded (Part 15)