Petroleum Commission Bill still being amended – Min Bharrat

…to be re-tabled “soon”

Amendments are still being made to the Petroleum Commission Bill, and the greenlight will soon be given for this document to be re-tabled in the National Assembly.

Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat

This was according to Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat who explained that several faulty sections of the bill are being amended which will also remove the overarching power which the Minister with responsibility for petroleum was given to cause disruption at any time.
“At that time, our objection to the Petroleum Commission Bill was that it gives the Minister with responsibility for petroleum too much power. The Minister could possibly usurp the authority of the Commission at any point in time. That is when we were in Opposition. Now we’re in Government, we don’t want to be hypocritical. Our position remains the same. The Minister with responsibility for petroleum should not have that kind of power…The AG chamber has been working on this to ensure that we have those amendments made and hopefully, we’ll re-table it sometime soon.”
Responding to calls from Chairman of the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Commission Manniram Prashad for the entity to hold a seat on the Commission, the Minister stated, “That is more of a policy decision and…I cannot decide that on my own whether GOGEC or any other organisation will be a part of it. I’m sure at some point in time, we’ll get to that.”
The Petroleum Commission Bill was initially tabled back in 2017 by then Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman during the 11th Parliament. It was to be taken to a Special Select Committee at a later sitting after its second reading. However, it was yet to be passed when the current Government took office last year.
After taking office in August, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had indicated that several moves were being made immediately to ensure that the oil and gas sector is effectively managed; and this includes putting skilled persons at the helm of the Commission.
“What you need is technical oversight with some of the best brains. We hope that Guyanese will heavily be involved there.”
Jagdeo also disclosed that the President and Vice President will have oversight for the Natural Resources sector. Additionally, the Department of Energy, which was set up under the previous Government to handle the oil and gas sector, was taken under the wings of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Meanwhile, Bharrat said “realistic” timelines are being set for the Local Content Policy and draft legislation.
“We have a second draft. We’re working on set targets and timelines, realistic targets and timeframe. We’re also working on the draft legislation so hopefully soon, we will be able to release that for further consultation.”
Back in April, the Ministry had concluded a series of strategic engagements with various stakeholders on the revised draft Local Content Policy since this policy initiative would provide for Guyanese to play a greater role in the advancement of the petroleum sector.
The revised policy document seeks to put into context the current and evolving state of Guyana’s oil and gas sector, and to enable an improved level of local business participation therein through addition of value, access to opportunities, and capacity building for Guyanese within the energy sector.