“A Fair Deal for Guyana – Fair Deal for the Planet” is a campaign by concerned citizens from Guyana and around the world.
Lawyers acting for the Guyanese campaigners are to lodge the latest challenge in a court in Guyana this week. They are funding the battle against oil giants Exxon Mobil, Hess Corporation and Nexen, a subsidiary of Chinese national oil, through the crowdfunding site CrowdJustice.
Major oil reserves have been discovered off the coast of Guyana. The government and the oil companies have talked about ‘unimaginable wealth’ for the country. However, there is widespread fear that this is a bad deal for Guyana and a disaster for our planet. In oil producing countries like Nigeria, Angola, Chad and Guyana’s close neighbour, Venezuela, oil has led to rampant corruption, lost lives, environmental disasters, and excessive dependency on one economic sector. The oil companies and a small elite have become very rich. Ordinary citizens are worse off.
There are already early warning signs. Oil companies paid Guyana’s government ministers a signing bonus of US$18 million which was placed illegally in a secret account. The oil deal itself is scandalously low – the oil companies will pay no tax and the royalty is set at a derisory 2%. Guyana will get a share of the profits but it will have no control over how those profits are calculated. ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary recently presented Guyana with a bill for over US$460 million for costs going back as far as 1999. The international business press reports that Guyana’s oil fields could be among the most profitable of the decade – it is easy to see why.
Meanwhile, no one seems to be paying attention to the impact of oil production on global climate change – the biggest threat to life on earth. So far, ExxonMobil has estimated over 3.2 billion barrels of oil in their concession. Once used, this will release over a billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Guyana will go from being a carbon sink, that prides itself on having vast areas of virgin rainforests, to a carbon emitter.