5 years laterWith Guyana now being an oil-producing nation, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has criticised the incumbent coalition Administration for failing to adequately prepare for first oil almost five years after petroleum was first discovered offshore.US oil giant, ExxonMobil first discovered oil in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana in May 2015 and has since made a total of 15 discoveries – the most recent was announced earlier this week.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoThe company commenced oil production on December 20 in the Liza field, which has the capacity to produce 120,000 barrels of oil per day. But according to Jagdeo, while the first batch of crude is expected within the first quarter of 2020, most of the mechanisms are not in place to streamline the sector.“What most Guyanese are concerned about is that they’ve had almost five years from the discovery of oil to the production of first oil to put in place the arrangements to properly manage the sector and until now, they have failed in that regard. They’ve failed miserably in that regard,” he stated at his weekly press conference on Friday.According to the Opposition Leader, among the areas in the sector that the governing coalition failed at is contract renegotiations because it did not look out for the best interest of the country.He noted too that the Government failed to establish a credible Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) despite technical assistance from various international bodies. The Natural Resources Fund Act was passed in January of this year but the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Opposition has promised to repeal this if it gets into office, saying that it is illegal since it was passed after the December 2018 No-Confidence Motion against the Government.Another area he mentioned was the controversial US$18 million signing bonus that the coalition secretly collected and stashed away in a private account instead of the Consolidated Fund.“They asked for US$18 million and somebody said it is because that is what it will cost to take care of the legal fees for the Venezuela border issue before the World Court. That’s not how you negotiation, you ask for the maximum sum. They failed to give a creditable explanation on that issue. They failed until today to explain why they kept the money outside the Consolidated Fund for three years. They failed to explain until now how much money was drawn down and so we don’t know what is the total money that was paid over, after the court case filed by the PPP, to the Consolidated Fund earlier this year…,” he stated.Other issues Jagdeo went on to outline that Government failed at putting in place included putting together a regulatory body. He noted that instead of an independent Petroleum Commission to regulate the sector and ensure that oil companies fulfil their contractual obligations, a Department of Energy under the Ministry of the Presidency is overseeing the sector with a sleuth of foreign consultants – many of whom have a link to the petroleum industry.Jagdeo further pointed out that the coalition also failed in establishing a Local Content Policy.“Until now we don’t have a Local Content Policy to protect Guyanese, to give jobs to Guyanese… That we don’t get paid 72,000 Guyana dollars gross when the foreigners in the same sector, doing the same thing gets 2000 US dollars. They’ve failed on that too,” he contended.This failure, the Opposition Leader added, continues, since only recently, the governing coalition moved to strike a deal to sell Guyana’s share of first oil, which is expected sometime in the first half of 2020.“We haven’t got this oil as yet – the three million barrels. It may be available till after March – after the elections. But they also tied up [a deal] through an arrangement that they claimed had the blessings of the World Bank… It makes me really upset that we pander so much. You know once we mention the World Bank name, suddenly that is imprimatur to do anything including breaching our procurement laws,” Jagdeo asserted.Earlier this week, Government revealed that it has closed a deal with the Barbados-based branch of Shell International to sell Guyana’s first three oil lifts.However, no details were given as to the price agreed upon between Government and Shell, which was one of the nine international oil companies that were invited to bid for Guyana’s crude.The Department of Energy had reported that Guyana is entitled to its first crude lift in February and Shell’s three-cargo agreement should end mid-2020.But the Opposition Leader had warned last week that if any deal is made to sell Guyana’s oil, not only will that contract be scrapped if the PPP wins next year’s March 2 elections but the company will also be barred from participating in future tendering processes.In addition, Auditor General Deodat Sharma had said in sections of the media that his department would look into the transaction.