THE soon-to-be established Department of Energy will focus primarily on Guyana’s up-and-coming oil and gas sector. Minister of State Joseph Harmon told reporters Friday that the department will fall under the Ministry of the Presidency and will receive direct guidance from President David Granger.
Additionally, Harmon noted that the Quintet of Ministers — Ministers of Finance, State, Public Infrastructure, Business and Natural Resources — with responsibility for oil and gas has been tasked with paying attention to the organisational structure of the department, legislation to be introduced for the sector, negotiations with potential investors, exploration and production licences, public communication responsibilities, the engagement of technical experts, the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, capacity-building measures, the review of fiscal contractual terms and the transfer of responsibility from the Ministry of Natural Resources to the department.
“…It is basically giving more space, authority, resources under the direct eye of the President in dealing with these issues,” Harmon explained.
No one has been identified to head the department, but the Minister of State made it clear that whoever is selected will report directly to the President.
The move by the administration to establish a Department of Energy follows a proposal Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman submitted to have specialised attention placed on the petroleum sector, given the complexity of tasks that come with the administering of such resources.
Meanwhile, Harmon announced that by virtue of the Department of Energy falling under the Ministry of the Presidency, he will be answerable to the National Assembly on matters related to the department. Additionally, the Quintet of Ministers is to decide on who will head the new department, Harmon stated.
On those areas related to energy, which fall under the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Harmon said those areas will not be removed.
“Those responsibilities with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will remain there for the time being. The Department of Energy will be dealing with oil and gas. That is the intention.
“Ultimately, a Department of Energy as it says will basically deal with all matters in relation to energy, but as it stands right now, those matters which relate to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will remain there and this Department of Energy or whatever name we give to it will deal with oil and gas; this is the specific responsibility right now,” he explained.
The Minister of State made it clear that government is constrained by the number of ministers it already has and is not mindful of creating more bureaucracy within the system. He said too that like the Department of Environment, the Department of Energy “will fall neatly” under the Ministry of the Presidency.
Last month, government announced that Minister Trotman will soon hand over the oil-and-gas sector to the new Department within the Ministry of the Presidency.
The Ministry of the Presidency made it clear that the Natural Resources Minister was not stripped of his responsibilities in the oil-and-gas sector and noted that he has performed well since taking over the natural resources sector.
“The Natural Resources Minister has provided sterling leadership in the development of the sector and it is under his stewardship that significant progress has been made in capacity building and preparations for ‘first oil’,” the MotP said in a release late last month.
According to the ministry, Trotman through his ministry has made significant achievements, some of which include the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Petroleum Institute of Mexico for training and capacity building, the drafting of the Petroleum Commission Bill, Sovereign Wealth Fund Bill and Health, Safety and Environment Regulations and the revision of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act with the help of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The MotP also noted Guyana’s acceptance as the 53rd candidate country of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in September 2017, one of the fastest acceptance periods for any candidate country, while the Natural Resources Fund Bill is with the Ministry of Finance and a settled draft is expected to be presented in the first quarter of 2018.