Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman today defended the Government’s move to delay the release of oil blocks given to ExxonMobil in its concession offshore Guyana.
Trotman told the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources that the Government decided to keep that concession granted to Exxon in 1999 intact in the interest of national security.
According to Minister Trotman, the threat from neighboring Venezuela to Guyana’s oil-rich waters has not diminished and Exxon has stood up and remained while other companies shied away from going too close to Venezuela.
He said Exxon has proven that it has the “international gravitas, strength and wherewithal,” while reiterating that the decision not to release any of the 60 blocks given to Exxon in the area as being “strategic.”
He rejected claims by some citizens that it was illegal for Exxon to be granted that many blocs but Trotman reminded of blocs given to other companies which have since packed up and left.
He reminded of the age-old claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region by Venezuela and the MAy 2015 decree by President Maduro which now claims territory where Exxon has made one of its largest oil discoveries.
Guyana continues to insist on its sovereign right to develop its natural resource with Trotman pointing out on Friday Exxon’s commitment to commencing oil production by 2020.
This is being done even as the two countries are before the International Court of Justice in the border controversy case.
Trotman further explained that US $15 million of the US$18 million Bonus the government received from Exxon had always been earmarked for the case at the ICJ.