Minister Patterson’s information 100% wrong – Ram

first_imgPetroleum mining blocks…“if you don’t know the facts don’t speak, don’t mislead people”Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson in his haste to criticise Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo this past week, has instead found himself being hauled over the proverbial coals over his blatant misrepresentation of the facts.Minister Patterson’s misrepresentation of the facts, condemned as outright lies by Opposition Leader Jagdeo, was on Friday also repudiated by eminent Chartered Accountant and civil society activist Christopher Ram, during a public talk on ‘Oil – Its Opportunities Challenges.’Opposition Leader Bharrart JagdeoRam told those in attendance at the event held at Moray House on Camp Street, Georgetown, that when Patterson insinuated that the Bharrat Jagdeo Administration had given out all of the petroleum oil blocks, he was in fact 100 per cent wrong.“At least stick to the facts, if you don’t know the facts don’t speak, this was completely wrong,” said Ram, as he contested the assertion made by the Public Infrastructure Minister. Ram told those in attendance for his public talking – including Member of Parliament and Member of the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament, Odinga Lumumba – that not only are there several petroleum blocks still available, but the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) did in fact hand out petroleum blocks to operators when it took office.Ram added further that the APNU/AFC Administration did in fact ink an agreement in January 2016 for additional petroleum blocks to be given out.He pointed to the Petroleum Prospecting Licence and Production Sharing Agreement with the joint venture team of Tullow Guyana B V and Eco (Atlantic) Guyana Inc for a concession of 1801square kilometres in the Orinduik Block, offshore, Guyana.Public Infrastructure MinisterDavid PattersonThe vocal civil rights activist in his critique of Patterson said, “this is not about politics, this is about our country… that is not true, c’mon Mr Patterson, don’t mislead people,” as he pointed to the agreement inked by the current Administration and quipped “you (Patterson) say everything was gone.”Ram was adamant that near shore, there are still a large number of blocks available and for Patterson to suggest 100 per cent had been given out is completely wrong; and in, fact a dangerous assertion.The Public Infrastructure Minister on Thursday last during a press engagement hosted by the AFC, told reporters that the Opposition Leader had already farmed out all of the petroleum blocks in response to allegations that several front companies were being established with close linkages to friends and relatives of Ministers with the aim of securing production and exploration licences in order to flip for a profit, since they could not secure the large amounts of capital needed to engage in oil exploration and production in those blocks.Patterson when questioned recalled, “In Budget 2015, the Minister of Natural Resources (Raphael Trotman) made a statement saying that all available forest land had been given out; so all I can say is, ‘Ditto’…when we got in they (had given) out everything.”Patterson continued: “Some of the people (to receive oil concessions) we don’t even know…so there is nothing to give.”This position has however been debunked in full by Ram, who not only pointed to the concession that had been given out by the Administration of which Patterson forms a senior member, but by using information made available by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), to prove that there are numerous existing blocks still available.Jagdeo during a press engagement on Wednesday at his Church Street, Georgetown office had warned of a worrying case of cronyism that is currently evolving where relatives, friends and associates of Ministers and senior Government functionaries have been incorporated into companies through complex shareholding arrangements and are applying for Exploration and Production Licences for oil and gas in the blocks still available.According to the Opposition Leader, such a ploy could see middlemen through these front companies with close relations to the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration raking in tens of millions of US dollars by flipping those licences to international companies since they are unable to raise the required capital for the exploration and development activities required for commercial oil production.One such company identified in recent times is Totaltec, which is spearheaded by the brother of the Petroleum Advisor to President David Granger, Dr Jan Mangal.Jagdeo has called on the Administration to have the available blocks auctioned instead.The Opposition Leader said: “There are at least two companies that we know of that have developed complex shareholding structures that have made applications.”Speaking to the need for the available blocks to be instead auctioned off rather than having preferred companies apply, Jagdeo sought to point out that a premium must be considered.Jagdeo suggested that the world-class discovery of oil in Guyana could be compared to a ‘gold shout’, and said the moment oil was discovered, “there is a premium now to owning offshore blocks and getting an Exploration or Production licence”.As such, he opined that the companies in question “will get these blocks and weeks later, they will sell the blocks without any competitive process being followed”.Jagdeo suggested too that even some of the foreign companies that have been making applications had “unhealthy contacts with some Ministers and their surrogates”.Patterson in his haste to respond ended up making a monumental blunder causing the Opposition Peoples Progressive Party to call him out on the lies being disseminated to the public.The Opposition Leader has since further challenged Government, saying: “If Patterson has correctly expressed the position of the Government, then we call upon the Government to make public a list of all the petroleum-mining blocks, the names of the persons or companies to whom they have been allocated, and the date of allocation.”This disclosure, according to Jagdeo, will alert the public to the fact that no new petroleum-mining blocks can be allocated in the near future.last_img

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