In a recent development, Guyana’s government has reaffirmed its stance on the $214 million claim against ExxonMobil (NYSE:) for questionable expenses related to the Stabroek Block audit. Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat stood by the original figure, despite unauthorized negotiations by Gopnauth B. Gossai Jr. that had significantly lowered the disputed amount.
The audit in question, conducted by IHS Markit on behalf of the Guyana Government, scrutinized ExxonMobil’s expenses from 1999 to 2017, which totaled $1.7 billion. The firm identified $214 million in questionable costs, which the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) did not contest.
In late 2022, Bharrat acted on advice from Gossai to request GRA’s approval for reducing the claim to approximately $3.4 million. Further discussions in July 2023 led to Gossai announcing additional reductions in the disputed sum. However, these negotiations were not sanctioned by the GRA, and the initial claim remained unchanged.
Bharrat defended Gossai’s actions, stating that no national losses had occurred due to the unauthorized negotiations. He also addressed allegations of political protection and staff discrediting, emphasizing Gossai’s non-membership in the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) and his own commitment to protecting Guyanese interests.
The government has taken a firm position in ensuring that Guyana receives fair value for its natural resources. ExxonMobil has the option to resolve this dispute through arbitration if necessary.
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