While admitting that the Head of the Petroleum Unit made a grave mistake when he engaged ExxonMobil in unauthorized discussions to reduce the disputed $214 million in cost oil claim, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat believes the mistake was not “fatal”
IHS Markit in its Stabroek Block Cost Recovery Audit for the period 1999 to 2017 had flagged US$214M that Exxon was claiming as costs.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Natural Resources Minister said the decision was reversed and the original disputed sum of US$214 million still stands.
“So, the intervention was made by the government because we are elected to ensure that we protect the rights of people, to ensure that whatever expenses are incurred by Exxon is audited properly; that Guyanese get the true value for our resources, and that is what we were elected to do. And that is what we did,” the Natural Resources Minister said.
Head of the Petroleum Unit, Bobby Gossai was penalized with a 15-day pay cut. However, notwithstanding the mistake, the Minister, who distanced himself from the reduction when it became public, said he would not discredit his staff.
He said mistakes are made every day.
“The mistake was not fatal in that we did not lose as a country. Is not that we accepted it, we are accepting the one that we are having the report for which is the US$214M and not the US$3M. So, I will not tend to discredit any of my staff. We all make mistakes; I do make mistakes. You make mistakes. If, it was fatal, it was a different story. It is not,” Minister Bharrat.
He said the Cost Recovery Audit Report for the period 1999-2017 is currently with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), and will conclude soon.
It was also noted that the second Stabroek Block Cost Recovery Audit is also under review. Minister Bharrat said the Government hopes that in the future, Guyana will have the capacity to conduct its own audit.