Support for the upgrading of Guyana’s Upstream Oil and Gas Policy continues to pour in from international bodies as oil exploration activity is intensifying in the country’s offshore waters.
On Monday, Economic Advisers at the Oceans and Natural Resources Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Daniel Wilde and Dr. Ekpen Omonbude met with Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman to discuss and begin work on the upgrading of the Policy which was crafted some two years ago.
Earlier this month, the Government announced that it had invited the Commonwealth, which helped in crafting the first Policy, to return to the country, so that the document could be upgraded given the recent oil discovery by US oil giant, ExxonMobil.
Initially, the team was scheduled to return to Guyana in November, for the new document to be drafted but decided to begin almost immediately.
During the meeting, Dr. Ekpen Omonbude related that the upgrade to the Policy would involve an analysis of the legislative, contractual and regulatory frameworks currently in place to see how best they can be improved to the benefit of the country.
“We want to look at the fiscal arrangements for upstream petroleum activities to do two things; one is to assess it for its strengths and weaknesses and to strike the balance to get revenue and if we find any weaknesses; to make recommendations as to what needs to be done in order to move forward. We would also like to examine the existing petroleum legislation and contracts and make comments and recommendations,” Dr. Omonbude expressed.
Dr. Wilde said that the team will also be examining the resource management plan of the country as well as make suggestions and advising on the setting up of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), an initiative he praised the current government for pursuing.
“The setting of a Sovereign Wealth Fund is very important. Many countries do not think about that in the initial stages and so it is good to see Guyana thinking about this and wanting to pursue it and we are ready to offer our assistance in this area”.
Meanwhile, Minister Trotman acknowledged the work done on the previous Policy as extensive and said it is the Government’s belief that the policy should be upgraded to suit modern day changes so that it can be properly implemented and enforced.
Trotman assured that coming out of the recommendations, if there is a need for legislative measures, these will be addressed. Work on the Upstream Oil and Gas Policy began in 2012 and was finalized and approved in the third quarter of 2014 by the former administration.