Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat has revealed that US$436 million, deriving from seven oil lifts since Guyana started producing oil, currently sits in the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) following the receipt of payment for the latest lift.
The Minister made this revelation at the 31st sitting of the National Assembly on Monday, during his preamble before the second reading of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Amendment Bill.
The Ministry has also released a statement detailing when Guyana got its oil lifts and how much money was earned. The most recent oil lift from the Liza Destiny FPSO was on July 3rd – the third for this year and seventh in total.
Guyana received US$79.6 million for the lift, which has taken the money earned from the 7 million barrels of oil lifted by Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) to US$388.7 million. This is outside of other sums of money the country earned from royalties and interest, the total of which was provided by the Minister.
“Before the elections in 2015, Guyana struck oil. Guyana became a country that will soon be an oil producing nation. In June of 2016, the Production Sharing Agreement was signed by the then Government with EEPGL to begin production. Production actually started in December of 2019.
“To date, we would have completed seven lifts, which is equivalent to seven million barrels of oil, equating to over US$400 million, which now sits in our Natural Resource Fund. To be precise, US$436 million,” Minister Bharrat said in the National Assembly.
The Government, in the statement, reiterated its promise to manage the nation’s patrimony to the benefit of all Guyanese, as well as providing updates on oil lifts and sales as may be necessary to ensure that all stakeholders and members of the public are informed.
Transparency and accountability
During his address to Parliament, Minister Bharrat also stressed that the PPP Government is intent on increasing transparency and accountability through the legislative process before it embarks on spending this money.
“Important to note, Mr Speaker, is that since taking office just over a year ago, the PPP administration has not spent a single dime from the Natural Resource Fund. We have not embarked on a squandermania of the oil revenues.
“We have not misused the oil revenue. We still have every single dollar from the direct proceeds of the oil and gas sector in the natural resource fund, which will be spent to ensure that every Guyanese benefits,” Bharrat said.
It was only a few days ago that Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo spoke to the issue of the funds from oil and gas. He recalled the systems being put in place by the Government, including the Petroleum Commission and, importantly, the legislation for the Natural Resource Fund.
“The money that is there, we decided that we will come up with a programme. That programme for spending will have to go through a parliamentary process. So, right now, we’ve accumulated the money. Anytime we utilise funds from that pool of resources, they will have to go through a transparent process.
“That includes publicly identifying the project, saying how much will be utilised, ensuring that the Auditor General is also aware of the processes involved. It would require parliamentary approval,” the Vice President said.
Guyana commenced producing oil in 2019, and earned money from the first 1 million barrels of oil lifted the next year. So far, all of Guyana’s oil revenue is being held in the NRF, which is banked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
It is expected that once the Natural Resource Fund Act, which stipulates that various committees must be established to provide oversight for the fund, is reviewed, it will be brought to the National Assembly by the current Government and pave the way for the fund to be accessed.