2016 Exxon deal: Trotman’s book reveals a ‘wishy-washy’ excuse for poor leadership – VP Jagdeo

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has blasted former Minister of Natural Resources under the APNU+AFC Coalition, Raphael Trotman for admitting publicly that he was coerced by ExxonMobil to stay silent on the lopsided Stabroek Block Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) that was signed by him back in 2016.

According to reports, the former minister in a book titled ‘From Destiny to Prosperity’ has expressed regret for heeding Exxon’s advice to not criticise the PSA at the time it was signed.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.

The lopsided 2016 deal signed with ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) and its partners, Hess Corporation and CNOOC Petroleum Limited, saw Guyana receiving a mere two per cent royalty rate, massive tax breaks, among other deficiencies in the contract.

“Can you imagine any self-respecting man saying that I signed it, but Exxon told me not to criticise it? It tells you about the leadership of the APNU+AFC and how they defended our national interests,” Dr Jagdeo stated during an interview aired on Thursday.

“This guy is proud to say that Exxon told him not to criticise this contract. What kind of people are these? And to think that he was defending our national interests at that time and the others that are there,” the VP added.

The vice president said at the time the deal was signed, he was very disturbed as it was the previous PPP/C Administration’s vigorous engagement with ExxonMobil that led to the discovery of oil offshore Guyana.

However, the APNU+AFC coalition had a greater bargaining tool at the time the contract was signed, but didn’t leverage it, Dr. Jagdeo posited.

The Vice President noted that several mechanisms in the agreement have now been strengthened including increasing the royalty rate from two per cent to 10 per cent and strengthening environmental permits, among others.

“We reformed the fiscal regime. Even some people say it’s too harsh because moving from two per cent to 10 per cent royalty and zero taxes to 10 per cent taxes and capping cost recovery at 65 per cent, you’re taking too much too early from these contracts. And we said, no, that’s what we will stick with. Total different picture from APNU and us,” he emphasised.

He further expressed that the book published by the former minister is just a ‘wishy-washy’ excuse for the ineptitude that occurred.

“I believe it will be another set of wishy-washy kind of engagement about what took place, justification of the ineptitude that we witnessed as a country by the APNU+AFC government in five years.”

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