ExxonMobil Foundation Invests US$10 Million in Guyana for Research, Sustainable Employment and Conservation
- New collaboration established between ExxonMobil Foundation, Conservation International and University of Guyana
- Program to advance Guyana’s sustainable economy through investments in education, research, sustainable management and conservation of the country’s vast ecosystems
- Part of ExxonMobil’s long-term investment in supporting local priorities in Guyana
IRVING, Texas & GEORGETOWN, Guyana--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ExxonMobil Foundation said today that it will contribute US$10 million to a new collaboration with Conservation International and the University of Guyana to train Guyanese for sustainable job opportunities and to expand community-supported conservation.
The investment is also intended to support Guyana’s Green State Development Plan, the country’s 15-year development plan that aims, among other things, to diversify Guyana’s economy and balance economic growth with the sustainable management and conservation of the country’s ecosystems. The ExxonMobil Foundation will provide the investment over five years.
Initial grant money will fund a feasibility study driven by Conservation International, through its affiliate, Conservation International Guyana, to further define the details of the program. Once defined, Conservation International Guyana and the University of Guyana will deliver the education, training, research and retention programs that will help ensure that economic growth reinforces Guyana’s environmental development goals.
The investment is also intended to expand conservation areas in the Rupununi Wetlands, aid mangrove restoration and management and support improvements to community-based fishing on Guyana’s coast, a sector the government of Guyana has identified as critically important to the wellbeing of the Guyanese people, and support the work of the University of Guyana’s Greening Research and Innovation Centres.
“This partnership will support the highest conservation priorities for the country as well as education and training for sustainable employment,” said Kevin Murphy, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “It reinforces the government’s objectives as outlined in its Green State Development Strategy and demonstrates the value we place on our long-term relationship with the citizens of Guyana.”
“Guyana stands at a critical crossroads in its development,” said Jennifer Morris, president of Conservation International. “By investing in both people and nature, this partnership will play an important part in helping Guyana execute its vision for a green future.”
“A central feature of Guyana’s development plans is its Green State Development Strategy which envisions a commitment to a green economy, sustainable development and protection of its forests and fresh water resources aligned with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” said Professor Nigel E. Harris, chairman of the University of Guyana Council. “Funding support for a collaborative effort between Guyana’s leading university, Conservation International and ExxonMobil Foundation promises a critical opportunity to build relevant teaching, research and outreach capacity at our university that is necessary to underpin Guyana’s 2030 Vision for an inclusive, green and prosperous state.”
At this stage, Conservation International anticipates that training will be focused on environmental innovation and sustainability, and on entrepreneurship in nature-based sectors. Conservation International will tap its partnerships with key international universities such as Arizona State University in the United States to help develop the programs.
Conservation International is the grantee and the University of Guyana a key beneficiary. Conservation International, with over 20 years’ experience in Guyana, will take the lead in managing project objectives and implementation, including success measures as well as financial and reporting requirements of this multi-year partnership. Conservation International has been working in Guyana with over 50 communities to protect nearly 3 million acres of indigenous lands while also improving livelihoods.
ExxonMobil is placing an emphasis on supporting local priorities, including business and employment opportunities as well as broader community programs in Guyana. The company has spent about US$39 million with local suppliers in Guyana through 2017 and first quarter 2018. Approximately 68 percent of ExxonMobil’s current in-country employees are Guyanese.
About the ExxonMobil Foundation
The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) in the United States. The foundation and the corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, with a focus on math and science in the United States, promote women as catalysts for economic development and combat malaria. In 2017, the ExxonMobil Foundation, together with Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates along with employees and retirees, provided $204 million in contributions worldwide.
ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international energy company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil is a global leader in LNG project execution and holds an industry-leading inventory of resources, is one of the largest refiners and marketers of petroleum products, and its chemical company is one of the largest in the world. For more information, visit www.exxonmobil.com or follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/exxonmobil. Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is the affiliate in Guyana.
About Conservation International
Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “My Africa”, "Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef”. Follow Conservation International's work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About University of Guyana
The University of Guyana (UG) was established by act of parliament in 1963. It is the country’s leading tertiary institution and Guyana’s only national university. With a current enrollment of some 8,000 students, UG has graduated more than 40,000 students who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally. Over 65 percent of its graduates are absorbed in the local workforce. The university is also a major contributor to the national economy and to business and industry. UG expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus. It now offers more than 90 undergraduate and post-graduate programs including engineering, environmental studies, forestry, urban planning and management, tourism studies, education, creative arts, economics, law, medicine, optometry and nursing. Several online programs are available and UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations across Guyana through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education. UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities. Visit www.uog.edu.gy.
President Granger's Petroleum Advisor criticizes ExxonMobil's low royalty payment, control of large concession
Guyana’s two percent royalty on earnings from ExxonMobil’s oil sales is low compared to global standards, raising concerns about whether there was transparency about the negotiating system, Dr. Jan Mangal, Petroleum Advisor to President David Granger said Wednesday.
“What we can do is look at what are the international norms. Royalty, when you look around, is more between ten and twenty percent, not two percent,” Dr. Mangal told a discussion on the Government of Guyana’s Vision for the Oil and Gas Sector held at the University of Guyana’s Education Lecture Theatre.
He also noted that the tax is usually between 20 percent and 30 percent or more. Mangal remarked that the 50-50 percent profit share is “not bad”. However, the zero tax and two percent royalty that is in Guyana’s agreement has not gone down well with the advisor.
Asked whether the contract should be renegotiated, he said that was a question for Guyana to answer but he for the time being would withhold his view. “I am not at a stage yet where I am sharing that view publicly but it is under discussion,” he said. With “a lot of suspicion” still around about the oil sector, he said civil society and the wider Guyanese community need to develop greater trust of government and their representatives.
On the issue of whether the contract should not only be reviewed but also amended, the Petroleum expert said both contracting parties need to be comfortable. “if one party becomes really uncomfortable, it will change. Guyana is a sovereign country,” he said. At the same time he said policymakers would have to examine the trade-offs and be careful about scaring away investors. “Guyana has to be careful because that could be the perception, will be the perception but I don’t think it’s black and white. We have to be careful not to simplify too much and it’s not black and white and there could be a role for the grey area in the middle,” he said.
Mangal said he was pushing for experts from the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund and other agencies to conduct a “thorough a review of the contract” and for government to decide what it would do with the results.
While Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman continues to stress the benefits in the 2017 agreement with ExxonMobil when one considers the political, enormous financial and security risks facing that company, Mangal said Guyanese would be happier if there was transparency about the negotiating system. “The way I would be happy and you would probably be happy as well is if a process was followed and you knew who was involved and we knew their competencies and their expertise and they were respected did they go out there and bat for Guyana and they did they best they could but I think a lot of people in Guyana are questioning that,” he said.
Mangal noted that Guyana’s oil reserves discovered so far are of a very high quality and requires less processing. “I know it’s light oil which means it’s good oil and that’s a huge factor,” he said.
The Presidential Advisor, whose latest short-term contract ends in March 2018, said generally oil companies are “very powerful and experts in everything they do and they know how to influence governments to a ‘T'” but they could buckle under intense public pressure. “However, they can’t influence people. The only thing they are scared of is people so that’s why it’s important for Guyanese to have intelligent debate,” he said. At the same time, he cautioned against scaring away investors. After pushing for the ExxonMobil contract to be released, he welcomed the “brilliant analysis” that is leading to questions being asked.
Mangal promised to make his views known more frankly in the public in the coming months
The Presidential Advisor expressed grave concern about the fact that, based on the 1999 agreement and the new 2017 deal, ExxonMobil is controlling the entire Stabroek Block of about 600 blocks or 10 times more than what Guyana’s laws allow. “It is not good for one company owning too much of your acreage. Exxon already owns over fifty percent of the acreage in Guyana. That’s not good for Guyana,” he said.
Mangal argued that countries should benefit from diversity and competition in its acreage from companies from several parts of the world such as Europe and South America. “Oil is high-stakes, governments, companies they will do things at a high level,” he said. He recommended that Guyana examines how the acreage is allocated for the long term.
The Presidential Advisor warned against Guyana neglecting its agricultural sector, and instead recommended that a lot of the oil revenues be ploughed into that sector as well as developing physical infrastructure and the social sectors.
Guyana-Suriname maritime boundary dispute settlement influenced ExxonMobil's oil search
The settlement of the Guyana-Suriname maritime boundary dispute several years ago was an incentive for ExxonMobil to explore and eventually find huge oil fields offshore this country, former Head of the Frontiers Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Keith George said.
“If it weren’t for the 2007 Arbitral Award, Liza would not have existed. Liza is just a few kilometres away from where Suriname itself was claiming and Exxon would have been even more fearful because of what Suriname did in June 2000; it used its gunboats,” said George who is currently Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname.
The dispute was settled by the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in 2007, seven years after Surinamese gunboats chased out a Canadian oil exploration rig from an offshore concession that had been awarded by Guyana. In a surprise move that had caught Suriname by surprise after the June 2000 incident, Guyana took its case to the Tribunal in 2004.
“Because of the fact that we have a boundary, we can move forward and Suriname can move forward as Caricom (Caribbean Community) partners,” George told a University of Guyana-sponsored conversation on Law and Society titled “Guyana’s Borders: Boundaries, Barriers, or Bridges”, held at the Theatre Guild Thursday evening, January 1, 2018.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Ambassador to Suriname remarked that despite the outstanding land boundary dispute over the New River Triangle, Guyana is Suriname’s fifth largest trading partner. “Especially in relation to Suriname, our borders are not barriers,” he said. George noted that between 2014 and the first half of 2017, trade between the two countries was valued at an estimated GY$53 billion ; GY$37 billion of which was in Suriname’s favour “so we have a huge deficit in spite of the fact that they are claiming our territory”.
The land boundary dispute is said to be the agenda of a joint commission between the two neighbouring South American countries.
- The University of Guyana