GUYANA: Guarantee and full indemnification; Oil spill compensation – By GHK Lall

GHK Lall

The two areas focused on today represent talking the talk, and then real-world reality. There is some encouragement first, a stirring of hope second.

Regarding full oil insurance coverage, (allowances given for caps, deductibles, and such), I am guardedly encouraged by promises of working for a ‘guarantee’ of some sort from Exxon (the almighty VP), and full indemnification in the event of an oil spill (the besieged EPA honcho); either one in its most comprehensive documentation from the parent company could be the game-changer that is acceptable.
But when these fine Guyanese speak, I have learned to be careful with their tangled webs…. Go slow is the motto.

For, like the President, it is not what they say in very grand terms, which may convey ideas of positives, but of what they really mean, in which there is big trouble concealed. To say this differently, it all lies in the definition and expansiveness of meanings attached to ‘guarantee’ and ‘full indemnification.’       

To elaborate a tad, what is the breadth of this suddenly emerging ‘guarantee’? Who and what and where is covered? To what monetary maximum? What is left out of such a guarantee? And, regarding that epiphany from the EPA head, how full is full? How much is Guyana indemnified for, and against what, from which sources?

All of this must be laid out in the most straightforward language, written in stone, meaning, irrevocable, hence non-negotiable, not appealable. To emphasise these nationally vital concerns, I point out that Exxon has more attorneys at its beck and call than we have in Guyana and in the region. They are not of the ambulance chaser and mortuary variety that populate the local fraternity. As I move later to Nigeria, this should become headlight bright, with how another oil power ‘lawyered’ its way for decades.

As all Guyanese should know by now, I place little trust in most things presented by the Hon. VP, and the EPA Head is in the same leaky boat. Both have earned this lack of trust with distinction, through the products of their fevered minds. They search diligently for ways to misrepresent oil-related matters and mislead this nation, through concealments and dodges. What is interesting is how the big one could be a tower of power in beating down brown and black locals objecting to his follies, but how sickly and cowardly he is when dealing with the powerful white brothers from America. We need to know the whole story on what ‘guarantee’ and ‘full indemnification’ represent. Hope it is not another political-commercial conspiracy drummed up by the VP and Exxon. Now to Nigeria.

The poor coloured natives of Nigeria were held hostage for 30 years Royal Dutch Shell and others after an oil spill.

Harvesting Third World riches and collecting billions from those societies is exciting for oil companies; but paying out when problems come (and which they are responsible for) is considered a tragedy. Oil companies go on a war footing. Oil companies raking in cash for decades get mean and stingy. But there is a larger lesson for Guyana, which was well said by the Nigerian community attorney representing the poor farmers. “They ran out of tricks, decided to come to terms.” This is what we must watch out for – tricks.

Our political leaders are full of tricks when dealing with Guyanese, but they are nonstarters in the trickery department when compared to monstrous Exxon. I would assert that Exxon is even trickier than Royal Dutch Shell, and particularly when dealing with coloured people. In case anyone is wondering why I persist with describing this as a ferocious battle between white and non-white parties, I invite fellow citizens to revisit history. Go back a little to what happened to the Aztecs; then study the early years of the Arabs and their ongoing fights for oil fairness; next, touch Africa, and it is the same saga of Caucasian rapacity waged endlessly against people of colour, lesser life forms in their eyes.
Now it is Guyana’s turn. And if de Vee Pee tink dat Exxon is he fren, he is worse than thought of, in a bad place.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Kaieteur News.)

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