Award of Kaieteur, Canje Oil Blocks… Former Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud explains

Award of Kaieteur, Canje Oil Blocks…I only operated as a bridge between GGMC and Ramotar –  says Former Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud 

Robert Persaud

By Kiana Wilburg  – Nov 18, 2019  News    

When it comes to the award of oil blocks pre- oil discovery, former Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud contends that he never had a central role to play.

In fact, Persaud described himself to this news agency as being a mere bridge between former President, Donald Ramotar (who was also the Minister of Energy) and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).

During a guest appearance on Kaieteur Radio’s Programme, Guyana’s Oil and You, Persaud made this comment as he explained the thinking behind the award of two oil blocks, Kaieteur and Canje, just months before the 2015 elections were held.         

Hitting off with a few facts, Persaud noted that the applications for those blocks were made between the 2012 to 2013 period while noting that a series of discussions were entered into as required under law with GGMC. The former Minister said that those discussions, based on information and records, show that they lasted for about a year.

In the case of the Kaieteur Block that was awarded to the Israeli based Ratio Petroleum and its joint venture partner, Ratio Energy Limited in Guyana, the deal was almost ready to be signed in 2013 but there was an intrusion by a Venezuelan navy, which seized a survey ship called the Technic Perdana. That vessel was working in Area A for Anadarko Petroleum.

The intrusion, this newspaper understands, placed the signing of the agreement on hold. The following year, 2014, discussions were held between the Government and Ratio to the effect that if the licence was granted, no work would commence until permission was granted. That green light was not given until 2015.

Here again, Persaud emphasised that the Minister of Petroleum was always the President and it was only based on GGMC’s recommendations that he provided advice. He said that this protocol was observed for the oil blocks mentioned.

He added, “I was more or less the bridge (between GGMC and the President) but GGMC was the entity under the law (with the regulatory powers) and it had discussions with the applicants and those who came after.” Persaud further stressed that the Commission would only provide recommendations once it is satisfied that all requirements were met.

In a previous interview with Kaieteur News, Commissioner for the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Newell Dennison had said that the licences which were granted for the Canje and Kaieteur Blocks were done in conformity with the law.

A perusal of Guyana’s Petroleum Exploration and Production Act says, “No licence shall be granted to an individual unless he is a citizen of Guyana or to a body of persons, unless it is – (i) a company; or (ii) a corporation. A licence may be granted to two or more persons associated together in any form of joint arrangement, if each one of them is qualified to hold the licence under subsection (1).” (See link for the Act: http://parliament.gov.gy/documents/acts/8170-act_no._3_of_1986_petroleum_(exploration_and_production)_act_1986.pdf)

Dennison further noted that GGMC even went above and beyond by doing due diligence and holding several rounds of discussions regarding the proposal and work plan of the small companies as it relates to raising financing and attracting more operators.

The GGMC Commissioner had said, “We have entertained people who did not have an established presence like other majors, but they came and were able to bring the expertise and a solid financing programme to the table. CGX is a typical example of that. When they came, they brought experts who were well known in Calgary, they brought the financier, John Cullen and they were able to say, ‘while we are not a company that has 40 years experience in the game, we are going to form this consortium which has cumulative experience in drilling, geology, business, geophysics etc.’ and that is one way we have been able to get people to the table in the early stages to explore Guyana’s basin.”

With Guyana poised to become a petro-state next month, Persaud told Kaieteur Radio that he unreservedly supports calls for the improved criteria for the awarding of oil blocks to evolve.

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Comments

  • Trevor  On November 18, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    “In the case of the Kaieteur Block that was awarded to the Israeli based Ratio Petroleum and its joint venture partner, Ratio Energy Limited in Guyana, the deal was almost ready to be signed in 2013 but there was an intrusion by a Venezuelan navy, which seized a survey ship called the Technic Perdana. That vessel was working in Area A for Anadarko Petroleum.”

    Venezuela doesn’t like Israel, so it isn’t surprising.

    And what is an apartheid state doing business here? Those oil blocks should have been awarded to several Afro-Guyanese businesspeople, but instead, those oil blocks were given to Ratio, an unnamed oil company from Cayman, with the rest of oil blocks given to a Chinese oil company and Exxon-Mobil.

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