Commonwealth team in Guyana to upgrade Upstream Oil and Gas Policy

Georgetown, Guyana – (September 21, 2015) – Economic Advisers at the Oceans and Natural Resources Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Daniel Wilde and Dr. Ekpen Omonbude,today, met with Minister of Governance, with responsibility for the Natural Resources and the Environment,, Raphael Trotman,to discuss and begin work on the upgrading of the Upstream Gas and Oil Policy, which was crafted some two years ago.

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The team met with the Minister’s delegation, which included Ministerial Adviser, Clayton Hall, Legal Officers, Tamara Khan and Joanna Homer and Euileen Watson, Technical Officer- Mining at the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment boardroom on Brickdam.

Earlier this month, the Government had announced that it had invited the Commonwealth, which had 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 since Minister Trotman is expected to be out of the country during that period.

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; oneis 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 countryas well as make suggestions andadvicing 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,” Dr. Wilde said.

Minister Trotman, in brief remarks, welcomed the team noting that while the work done on the previous Policy was extensive, it is the Government’s belief that the policy should be ungraded to suit modern day changes so that it can be properly implemented and enforced.

Minister Trotman assured that coming out of the recommendations, if there is a need for legislative measures, these will be addressed.

The team will immediately begin its work and will be joined by a Legal Adviser from the Commonwealth Secretariat, tomorrow. A meeting is planned for Wednesday with Minister Trotman to provide an update on the work programme.

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