Don’t renegotiate the contract, cancel it

June 6, 2021 ovp

Organisation for the Victory of the People (OVP) adds its voice to all those calling for an immediate cessation of the contract with ExxonMobil and of all oil and gas production. In particular, we wish to give our full support to the recent case filed by Guyanese nationals, Quadad de Freitas and Dr. Troy Thomas against the oil giant ExxonMobil’s three projects, Liza Phase One, Liza Phase Two, and Payara. We join all those in the scientific, financial and legal worlds, who are calling not for a renegotiation of the contract, but rather for a cancelling of the contract and a bold decision to leave the oil and gas in the ground. The documentary, ‘Carbon Bomb,’ released in October 2020, exposes the nefarious reasons behind ExxonMobil’s oil projects in Guyana. ‘Carbon Bomb’ is available on YouTube and should be watched by every Guyanese. Insiders tell the story of ExxonMobil’s financial crisis and how Guyana became a pawn in the game of the beleaguered oil giant’s desperate attempts to stave off financial disaster, as it colluded with the World Bank to turn Guyana into the “world’s latest victim of the oil curse”. It is no secret that oil companies are facing huge challenges as the world moves out of the fossil fuel era.
Unfortunately, due to the ineptitude, short-sightedness and greed of the APNU+AFC regime, Guyana signed up for one of the very worst deals in the history of the oil and gas industry, and the current government is running with it.
Furthermore, and this is the main argument for pausing and changing our direction – Guyana has missed the era of oil bonanzas. It’s over. Oil prices are plummeting because the climate crisis is forcing everyone to turn to clean energy alternatives and reduce their dependency on fossil fuels ASAP. As a result, ExxonMobil is in serious financial crisis and its lucrative deals in Guyana are not so lucrative after all, but are being used as window dressing to deceive panicking shareholders into believing that the company is healthy and solvent. As Nikki Reisch, Director of the Climate and Energy Programme for the Washington DC based Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), points out, “gas is so worthless that Exxon would rather burn it than capture it and sell it. Guyanese people need to wake up to what is happening before it’s too late.” In May 2020, CIEL issued a press release calling on ExxonMobil to heed international environmental pollution warnings and cease flaring immediately. The statement clearly stated that “The flaring, which far exceeds levels authorised by the Guyanese government, releases greenhouse gases and toxins, threatening the global climate, the local environment, and public health.” Back then, CIEL’s president, Carroll Muffett, said that the volume of natural gas flared after only six months of oil production “put Guyana among the top 10 gas-flaring countries in the world.”
CIEL is now among a number of international organisations giving their full support to the most recent legal case filed by de Freitas and Thomas to stop the oil giant. OVP congratulates these two courageous citizens and Guyanese patriot, Melinda Janki, who is leading the legal team. We are proud that Guyana is now leading the way towards a saner future, since as Muffett points out, this case is the first of its kind in the Caribbean and “part of a rising tide of action by citizens worldwide who are going to courts to accelerate action in response to the climate crisis”.
In relation to the current case, Mr. Muffett highlighted a startling fact, that more than 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gases will be emitted directly from Exxon’s three projects and that this “is tantamount to burning more than 260,000 hectares of Guyana’s forests or practically removing close to 80 percent of Iwokrama, which comprises 371,000 hectares of forest”.
Only those with myopic vision and totally lacking in foresight can advocate taking us down this path of national suicide. Given the facts outlined above, can anyone say that leaving the oil in the ground is an extreme position? Or is it simply a rational and courageous one, that will ensure the preservation of the incredible wealth and resources that this country has been blessed with. I ask my fellow Guyanese: is it not better to leave the oil and gas where it is – at the bottom of the ocean, and remember that wise age-old adage, “All that glitters is not gold”.
Our politicians boast that they are promoting and developing a green economy but sadly, they don’t seem to have the faintest clue about how to achieve that goal. This is tragic because it is a goal that would most certainly secure Guyana’s prosperity and place in this brave new world.

Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)