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– says Opposition Leader not knowledgeable on O&G
Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo, said on Friday that the Payara Development Production License signed by his Government gives Guyanese a better deal than the Liza Production License which dropped the ball on flaring, operation transparency and several environmental issues.
He had reason to defend the agreement after criticisms were made by Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon. However, brandishing copies of the press statements of Harmon, Jagdeo said that he does not believe that the Opposition Leader is fit for leadership as he knows little about the crucial oil and gas sector.
On the same day but earlier, Harmon had criticized the approval of the Payara Development Project under the conditions which he said were similar to that of the Stabroek Block Agreement which the PPP/C has criticized.
In his remarks, Harmon had incorrectly referred to the Payara well as a block stating: “The PPP duped and deceived the people of Guyana as the Payara Block Agreement is very similar in terms of the Stabroek Block Agreement which the PPP, and Bharrat Jagdeo in particular, criticized endlessly while in the Opposition.”
In turn, Jagdeo told the media that while his new role as Vice President has been demanding much of his time, he couldn’t help be read the press statements of the Opposition Leader and respond.
“Every school child knows that we were not negotiating the Production Agreement…that agreement governs all the licenses that will be issued, the agreement deals with all the fiscal terms that will govern every development which has to be licensed separately in the Stabroek Block area,” Jagdeo said.
He continued: “For a Leader of the Opposition not to know the difference between a negotiation of a Production License and a Production Agreement, in an area that is so substantive in terms of its current and growing future…how could you ever lead anything?”
At the press conference, the Vice President justified the Government’s approval of the project which was reviewed by a team of international experts. He said that the project’s window of opportunity was closing and the Government facilitated a review and approval within the given time which will give Guyanese greater benefits as opposed to under the APNU/AFC.
Giving examples, he said that under the Liza Production License flaring was not prohibited and there were no fines for such and this has been rectified in the Payara Production License. Flaring, only under the Payara Project, is now only permissible during commissioning and start-up and under circumstances such as emergencies, maintenance, and restarting operations.
There are also stipulations that ExxonMobil must pay fines under the law to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the framework to be established by the Government as compensation for unauthorized flaring.
Further comparing the Payara License to the Liza License, the Vice President said that ExxonMobil now has to produce development and operating cost estimates within 90 days from the signing of the license; it cannot idly release produced water into the ocean; and annual independent audits will be conducted among other additions. “None of this was in the Liza License,” the Jagdeo boasted. “The Production Agreement now that they have under Payara is closer to international standards.”
On the matter of the deal Guyana received in its Stabroek Block Agreement, Jagdeo stressed to the media that is Government is interested in a review and not a renegotiation. ExxonMobil has no issue with this position as it is identical to theirs as last expressed by President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge.
Since the declaration of the elections, Jagdeo said that the APNU/ACF has developed a “holier than thou” persona but the PPP/C intends to pour cold water on this very soon.
“Two months after attempting to heist the Government and the whole country, they can come back and be holier than thou and I want to say to Harmon and the others…we’re getting back to those issues at some point in time. Don’t believe that we are going just let them go. It’s just a matter of time,” he promised.