January 12

Govt to hire overseas experts to staff energy dept

first_imgGovernment will be moving to hire overseas experts in the oil and gas industry to staff the department of energy, which falls under the Ministry of the Presidency, President David Granger has revealed.While admitting that there might be some challenges in getting the right skillset of people, he thinks if Guyana attracts the best, then it stands to benefit tremendously from this sector.Guyana’s new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Thailand, Surasak Suparat, presenting his Letters of Credence to President David Granger as Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and the Ministry’s Director General Audrey Waddell look on“It is bound to be a challenge because this is an international industry and we are aiming at a world-class industry. So, we are aiming to get the best persons,” he explained.According to the Head of State, Guyana has no experience in the field and because there is only a small petroleum unit which is now in the Natural Resources Ministry, there is need for expansion.“And we obviously have to attract the best people from around the world. So we are not attempting to avoid that responsibility. We will ensure that those things happen,” he added.In providing an update on the setting up of this department, the Head of State said a road map is being developed so as to attract the best in the business to work for the local oil sector.“We have to identify personnel, we have to identify buildings, and we have to start advertising to attract the quality personnel that can lead this important department into the future,” he explained.The President said his Government is being very careful about its approach because it wants the best outcome for this new industry. He said by the end of May there will be some further announcements.Cabinet in March officially approved the creation of an energy department that would now oversee Guyana’s oil and gas sector. Ministerial responsibility for the sector was stripped from Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and given to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.Government said the reason for this change was mainly to bring some organisational structure to the sector that will look at legislation to be introduced, negotiation with potential investors, exploration and production licences, public communication, and the engagement of experts, among others.They also assured that energy-related responsibilities lying with Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson would remain untouched for now, especially responsibility for the Guyana Power and Light.Trotman, and indeed the Government, has received much criticism for the way the budding oil sector is being handled. There have, in the past, even been calls to have Trotman removed from his position.The main reason for this was because of the discovery that Government had stashed in a private account in the Central Bank, US$18 million it had received from ExxonMobil as a signing bonus.Though this discovery was made since last year, the Government has made no attempt to have the money placed into the Consolidated Fund. Many have argued that Article 216 of the Guyana Constitution dictates that all public revenue be placed in the Consolidated Fund.Trotman was also criticised for his handling of the oil contracts between Government and ExxonMobil. Even the Government’s own adviser on petroleum, Dr Jan Mangal, has been sceptical of Guyana’s two per cent royalty on earnings from oil sales, which he said is low compared to global standards.While Dr Mangal has not objected to the 50 per cent profit share Guyana will receive, he does believe that the generous tax concessions and two per cent royalty is nothing to boast about. Others have also come out criticising Trotman, including outspoken Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram, who believes Trotman’s handling of the oil sector could lead to future disaster.last_img read more