The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to stop playing games of secrecy and be transparent with information surrounding the exploration of oil and gas in Grenadian waters by a Russian company.
Addressing the issue at Monday’ weekly NDC press conference in St. George’s, the party’s Caretaker for the Town of St. George, Claudette Joseph commented on a report in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper, dated September 21, 2017 that natural gas has been found in Grenada.
She noted that the article states that the find was made by the Russian outfit known as Global Petroleum Group “near our border with Venezuela”.
According to the article, serious drilling is taking place in Grenada, but yet Joseph said that “astonishingly, not a word of such news from the government to our people”.
“This discovery should be big news as far as we are concerned,” she declared.
“The question is therefore why is this a secret? Why is this being reported in the regional and international press and not in our local press?”
The NDC Caretaker spoke of the March 31, 2008 production sharing agreement signed between the then New National Party (NNP) administration and GPG “against legal and other expert advice”.
She said that “the consensus of all of those experts, legal and otherwise was that the agreement was largely disadvantageous to Grenada (and) was not in the best interest of Grenada at the time, yet it was signed”.
“When the NDC came into government in 2008 it sought to get a second opinion from another oil and gas exploring group, the Global Dynamic Group, which expressed the same view as the advice given by the legal advisors to the former NNP government, prior to signing the March 2008 agreement with GPG”.
Stating that this agreement had “expired in 2012”, Joseph said that in 2012 another independent group of experts, Global Dynamic Group advised the Government of Grenada much like the experts before that this production sharing agreement and the exploration license granted to GPG “was a most disadvantageous agreement and the greatest departure from industry standards that they have seen in all of their many years in the field”.
“There was no provision for example, for windfall profit sharing (or) oil profit …plus the amount of government receipts as a percentage of total revenue was the lowest in the world ranging from 38% to 52%, when industry norm in terms of what government would get as their share of the revenue was in the range of 60% to 70%,” she remarked.
According to Joseph, “when the agreement expired in 2012, the then NDC government was in the process of renegotiating to get a better deal for Grenada.
However, that came to a halt when Congress was voted out of office in the 2013 general elections.
She felt that when NNP came back into office there was an opportunity for them to renegotiate for better terms for the country.
“We don’t know whether this was done because everything is a big secret”, she said.
Joseph said if it is true that the government is proceeding with the old disadvantageous agreement that was signed in 2008, “we would find it an incredible and unforgiving wrong committed against the people of Grenada.”
She called on Prime Minister Mitchell “to immediately shed the cloak of secrecy surrounding the manner in which our patrimony is dealth with”.
“He (The Prime Minister) needs to tell us please, what is the deal between the Government of Grenada and GPG, has there been a natural gas find as being reported in regional and international press? If yes, what will be revenues to be realised by Grenada and how much would GPG get out of it?”
The NDC caretaker urged the Mitchell-led government to “stop handling our affairs as though it is their private little business”.
“Tell us the truth about the exploration and exploitation of our oil and gas resources, the CBI programme, publish the reports as required by law. Tell us the truth about the sale of Camerhogne Park and Grand E’tang, about the Grenada Postal Corporation and while you are at it, tell us why Mr. Tafawa Pierre continues to occupy the position as head of FIU when the law clearly says he is not a qualified person,” Joseph declared.
The NDC executive member expressed deep concern about the oil and gas matter and several others in which Congress believes that “the New National Party administration has treated with secrecy (and) absolutely no transparency, leaving us in the dark”.