With direct guidance from the President, government is pushing ahead with the establishment of a special Department of Energy to administer the affairs of Guyana’s oil and gas industry. The new Department will fall directly under the Ministry of the Presidency.
But although the way has been cleared for the establishment of this Department, a quintet of Ministers will come together to decide on several aspects of the functioning of this Department.
The Ministerial Group will look at matters relating to the structure of department, legislation to be introduced, negotiations with potential investors, exploration and other licenses, engagement with technical experts, setting up the sovereign wealth fund and review of fiscal contractual terms among others.
Since the coalition government took office, environment was removed from the Ministry of Natural Resources and placed under the Ministry of the Presidency as a department.
The Department of Energy will focus only on the development of the petroleum sector.
Raphael Trotman remains the Minister of Natural Resources, but will help the group of Ministers to choose someone to head the Department of Energy. That person will report directly to the President.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon will have gazetted responsibility for the Department and will lead the way in reporting on the Department’s performance to the National Assembly.
“We can’t set up a next Ministry because as you know we are constrained by the number of ministers we can have… creating new ministries will create more breach,” Harmon said during a post cabinet briefing on Friday.
He is confident that like the Department of Environment, the Department of Energy will fall neatly under the Ministry of the Presidency.
Eventually, the expectation is that the Ministry of Natural Resources will hand over full responsibility of the function of petroleum to this department.
The Ministry of the Presidency has refuted reports that Trotman has been stripped of responsibility for the petroleum sector and has instead acknowledged his contribution to laying the groundwork for the oil and gas sector.
The government has said that Minister Trotman provided sterling leadership in the development of the sector and it is under his stewardship that significant progress has been made in capacity building and preparations for ‘first oil’. He was also the one who initially recommended that a separate Department of Energy be set up to address oil and gas issues. (Kurt Campbell)