– Shows law only affords confidentiality protection to petroleum data – Ram

Upon noting the recent explanation by Energy Department Head, Dr. Mark Bynoe on the reason confidentiality clauses are part of Guyana’s Local Content Policy, Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram says he has been thrown into a state of complete and utter disappointment.

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Chartered Accountant, Chris Ram

Dr. Bynoe had explained that drafters of the Local Content policy had to honour the contractual terms of Articles 18 and 19 in Guyana’s current legally binding Petroleum Agreements.
Those Articles speak to the Local Content requirements of oil companies.
Dr. Bynoe subsequently highlighted that the said Articles do not call for disclosure but for the Operators meeting with the Minister on such issues.
Irrespective of the foregoing explanation by Dr. Bynoe, Ram strongly contends that the disclosure of local content data is not subject to any restriction.
During an interview, Ram said, “… Dr. Bynoe does not seem to know that the relevant Confidentiality provisions are set out in the Model Agreement and are subject to Section 4 of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act.
Confidentiality protection is afforded to petroleum data but the Act expressly excludes from such a restriction disclosure ‘for, or in connection with, any matter or purpose specified in a petroleum agreement.”
Of significance as well, is the fact that Guyana’s PSAs stipulate that such agreements “shall be governed by, interpreted and construed in accordance with the laws of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and , consistent with such rules of international law as may be applicable or appropriate, including the generally accepted customs and usages of the international petroleum industry.”
Three industry experts have confirmed that the use of confidentiality provisions in Local Content Policies is not a “generally accepted custom” in the oil industry. In fact, it is unheard of.
Ram was keen to note during his interview that full disclosure of local content data is good for the country since the businesses may be incentivised to outdo each other in terms of utilising Guyanese goods, services and skills.
With respect to Dr. Bynoe’s talk of needing confidentiality, Ram said that this shows how slowly he is learning on the job.
Ram opined, “It was the same kind of nonsense peddled by (Natural Resources Minister, Raphael) Trotman about the release of the 2016 Exxon agreement until he was corrected.”
The lawyer added, “…The time may soon come when we may have to ask that Bynoe be replaced. We cannot have such a major sector being handled in such an incompetent manner.”

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