PNC calls for fast-tracking establishment of Petroleum Commission

Persons onboard the ultra-deepwater drillship Noble Tom Madden

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Thursday issued a call to the Guyana Government to fast-track its efforts to establish a Public Petroleum Commission (PPC).
Plans to establish the body were signalled in 2020, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration assumed office.
At the time, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo disclosed that the Commission would be managed by technically competent Guyanese, while the Natural Resources Minister would only focus on the policy inputs and directions.

PNCR Chairman Shurwayne Holder

It was also disclosed that the Government would consult citizens through a series of community meetings so that they could contribute to the development of the Commission by sharing their views and providing feedback on plans already in place.
Additionally, it was made known that in the absence of the Commission, the Guyana Government would ensure all pertinent documents relating to the sector were made available for public perusal on the Natural Resources Ministry’s website, including contracts and environmental permits.
During a press conference on Thursday, PNCR Chairman Shurwayne Holder disclosed that the Commission was needed now more than ever, given that Guyana was producing a total of 645,000 barrels of oil per day and this number is projected to increase to 1.3 million barrels of oil per day by 2027 or 2028.
He explained that the Opposition has been pushing for the establishment of a Commission at the level of Parliament, and would continue to do so until it was brought into fruition.
“We believe that such a Commission should exist to take away the political element and remove politicians from having that direct management of the sector. Rather we want to see professionals lead it, so that we can obtain maximum benefit for the people of this country,” Holder said.
Holder contends that the Petroleum Commission will serve to ensure that there is utmost transparency within Guyana’s oil and gas sector, especially as it relates to the spending of oil and gas revenues and operations in the industry.

The Petroleum Commission Bill was initially tabled back in 2017 by the 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.
After taking office in August 2020, the new Government embarked on an initiative to make several amendments to the Bill.
The Bill is yet to be re-tabled in the National Assembly.
During a press conference in July 2023, President Dr Irfaan Ali was asked about the challenges the Government may be facing which may be contributing to the delay in setting up the Petroleum Commission.
“There’s the complexity of what is needed…the new Bill has to be very comprehensive; it has to take a lot of new circumstances into consideration. Every stakeholder and every group must be taken on board so that the Bill will be responsive to the whole national view that surrounds the sector itself,” he explained.
Nevertheless, President Ali had assured that works were ongoing and the Government intended to fulfil its campaign promise of setting up the Petroleum Commission.
“I’m very sure and I’m very confident that that process is ongoing at a rapid pace now,” he added.
The Petroleum Commission Bill provides for the establishment and functioning of the Petroleum Commission, which is intended to become the primary entity governing the oil and gas industry.
Since taking office, however, the Government has passed the Natural Resource Fund Bill and established the Natural Resource Fund Board – which has oversight of the country’s oil monies. In keeping with his powers under the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act 2021, President Ali had appointed five persons to the NRF Board, including Major General (Retired) Joe Singh, as chair.
The Government has also updated the 1986 Petroleum Act with the draft Petroleum Activities Bill and this piece of legislation aims to improve existing laws governing safety, emergency responses, and other oil and gas-related issues.
The Government has also updated the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA), which will ultimately see the State’s take rise to over 60 per cent of the current revenue share.
The Government had also pushed to have in place Local Content legislation, which paved the way for the establishment of the Local Content Secretariat, which has been in operation for over a year now.