OP-ED | Former EPA head fires back at ExxonMobil

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…warns Guyanese not to be fooled by fanciful talk to camouflage truth

It’s insulting that Exxon once again seems to believe that Guyanese people are stupid, attempting to bamboozle us with fanciful talk to camouflage the truth; but judging by their modus operandi and reputation around the world, I leave it to the Guyanese people to decide who is believable.

First, with respect to the $2.5 Billion insurance being denied, there is documentation otherwise, at the EPA. The fact is that Mr. Rod Henson, Exxon’s former Country Manager, hand delivered to me and the EPA Attorney, the insurance documentation, the details of which were explained by Mr. Henson, and which I personally added up to value approximately $2.5 Billion. That document sits in the EPA files, so I call upon the EPA to release it. As stated in my letter to the Editor, since that time around April 2019 to August 2020, regular meetings were held among the lawyers of the EPA and EEPGL to agree upon how liabilities above the $2.5 Billion, would be shared among the parent companies of ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC. Draft documents detailing their proposal were brought to each of these meetings, and I was briefed after each meeting. I therefore challenge Exxon to deny these meetings, recognizing that these draft documents, emails and calendars of participants can be retrieved. Further, I have the utmost regard for Mr. Henson’s honesty, and do not believe that he would take part in any of this brazen denial.

Second, during that same period, April 2019 to August 2020, EPA employees and I, incessantly broadcasted through all of the media outlets, this unprecedented accomplishment of obtaining what we called “unlimited liability coverage”. So much so, that many questions were raised in the media as to how is it possible that the EPA could depart from the Government/EEPGL Contract, when the Government continues to claim that the Contract is sacrosanct. Thus, with all of that media coverage including the EPA and Exxon ongoing meetings to finalize the arrangement, Exxon must answer the commonsense question as to why they did not ever deny any of it before now?

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Third, the highly publicized $2.5 Billion insurance caught the attention of the Guyana Insurance Association, which contended that the insurance carried by a foreign company, has to be transferred to Guyana in accordance with Guyana’s laws. This triggered a meeting among the Bank of Guyana, the Guyana Insurance Association, the Department of Energy, and the EPA, held at the Office of the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, to discuss how to proceed with the transfer of the insurance to Guyana. Numerous email exchanges amongst the parties exist to prove that the meeting was held, along with the reason for the meeting and its agenda.

Fourth, Exxon as typical, responded that “it has insurance coverage for all of its petroleum activities”, but cleverly avoided the amount of that insurance coverage. So, Exxon must state that if it is not the $2.5 Billion, what is it? and must produce the documentation.

Fifth, Exxon responded that “We have the financial capacity to meet our responsibilities and we are committed to paying all legitimate costs in the unlikely event of an oil spill…quickly and comprehensively as possible” – sounds very familiar to what Mr. Henson said, when we responded that with that avowal, they shouldn’t have any problems putting it in writing. That brought about the agreed upon plan for full liability coverage. Besides, we don’t have to go too far to see what is happening right in our backyard in Peru without a tight contract.

Lastly, Exxon claims that “EEPGL had, as of year-end 2020, almost $US5.0Bn in assets”, cunningly evading admitting what were EEPGL’s assets in 2019, the only time of relevance when the Permits were signed. The real truth is that Exxon calculatingly dodged that EEPGL’s assets were almost nothing in 2019 before production – the reason why we did not allow them to be self-insured with little or no assets.

In closing, I would urge the media to vigorously challenge Exxon to answer the questions and queries herein with specificity, and without the fluff and fanciful talk to distract. Again, I leave it to the Guyanese people to decide who to believe.



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