August 3, 2015

ExxonMobil’s rig left Guyana early June

…news broken by Venezuelan media

…to return early 2016 – ExxonMobil

As reports surfaced that US oil giant ExxonMobil has removed its oil drilling ship, the Deepwater Champion, from offshore

The Deepwater Champion now anchored in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Champion now anchored in the Gulf of Mexico

Essequibo, officials are insisting that the relentless aggression from Venezuela did not influence this decision.
Government, however, had failed to inform the Guyanese public of this development which occurred in early June. Reports in the Venezuelan media suggested that the Venezuelans understood that the drilling rig only left Guyana’s waters in the past few days. It would have been following the departure of ExxonMobil’s rig that, for instance, Venezuela confirmed the cancellation of the PetroCaribe rice deal with Guyana.
Guyana Times tried to make contact with Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman to find out why the public was not informed of this development when it had happened, but all calls made to his phone went unanswered. It was the arrival of ExxonMobil Deepwater Champion oil drilling rig/ship that had precipitated Venezuela’s latest revival of its controversy over our western border.
ExxonMobil Country Manager Jeff Simons told Guyana Times on Sunday during a telephone interview that the vessel had left Guyana’s waters since June and was now anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. He, however, quickly pointed out that this was not an unusual practice for the company.
“The vessel had completed the works it was doing on the Liza-1 well … it was always planned for the vessel to go there…we are planning for future drilling. We have collected enough information and data and we just in a planning stage right now,” he explained.
Simons stressed that the Deepwater Champion had completed its course of operation and the ongoing border controversy between Venezuela and Guyana regarding ownership of the Essequibo and the waters off its shore (where ExxonMobil is drilling) did not pressure the Company into removing the vessel.
He explained that at this stage, the company would be analysing its findings and planning for another period of drilling which should commence early in 2016.
“We are planning to return early next year or maybe sooner but we will return,” the Country Manager assured, noting that ExxonMobil is ecstatic about its discovery of hydrocarbons and oil-bearing rocks in the Stabroek Block.
In May, ExxonMobil announced its findings of more than 295 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.
Recent reports predict that this find could see Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) escalating to 12 times its current figure, which is transformational for any developing country.
Guyana’s GDP stands at around US$3.23 billion.

Venezuela is happy
In light of the reports emanating from the Venezuelan media that the oil company decided to withdraw from its operations, Minister of Governance and Patrimony, Raphael Trotman told another section of the media that the company’s action was “not irregular”.
That media outlet reported that the removal of the drilling vessel follows an “increase in activity in the Stabroek Block where seismic vessels were conducting exploratory works to determine if there are other commercially viable oil reserves in the immediate areas”. Trotman also confirmed the seismic works currently being done in the Stabroek block in the vicinity of the Liza-1 well, which has been capped, it was reported.
According to Venezuelan media, the President of the Venezuelan Chapter of the Latin American Parliament, Ángel Rodríguez, said that the Venezuelan Government “welcomed” this decision.
In early March, the oil and gas company, one of the largest in the world, was warned by the Spanish-speaking nation to refrain from going ahead with its planned exploratory drilling activity, on a concession awarded by Guyana offshore its Essequibo Coast.
Venezuela has repeatedly laid claim to the area being explored, ignoring an 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award, which was declared as the full and final settlement of the boundary between the two South American nations. Following the discovery of oil-bearing rocks in the area, Venezuela’s aggression grew stronger.
However, ExxonMobil assured that it will not be intimidated by the country’s claims and will continue its work in Guyana’s offshore waters.
The multibillion-dollar oil exploration project, which is expected to be executed over 10 years, got underway in early March.

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Enmore businessman robbed at gunpoint in Linden

– perpetrators arrested at road block
Hours after relieving an Enmore, East Coast Demerara businessman of $1 million and a firearm during a robbery at Coomacka Mines, Linden, three men were arrested during a road block at   Nottinghamshire, Linden on Saturday.
Naresh Pooran, 43, of Lot 2 Enmore, in a phone interview with Guyana Times on Sunday morning disclosed that he operated a lumber yard at Enmore and a sawmill at Coomacka, Linden. He explained that on Saturday about 13:00h, he travelled up to Linden in order to pay his workers and as he exited his car, two men approached him enquiring about doing business.
The businessman went on to say that owing to the slowdown in business, he informed them that he was not buying wood at the time and asked them to check back with him in a month’s time.
“I see them men left and as I turn me back to walk towards my workers, I feel a cold object behind me ears,” he stated. As he turned around, he saw the same two men with one of them holding a gun to his head. The other took away his licensed pistol and demanded money.
In fear for his life, he told them that the money was in a bag, which was in his car. One of the men reportedly collected the keys to the car, opened the door, and took out the money before they made good their escape on foot. Pooran and his workers went in pursuit of the men and saw them running up the Coomacka Mines Road.
The Police were contacted and upon instruction of the commander, road blocks were erected at strategic points.
Pooran explained that during the operation, Police stopped and searched a motor car bearing registration number, HB 4064 that was occupied by three men. The businessman’s firearm and an unlicensed .38 pistol with three matching rounds were discovered.
The Police said they also found some of the money – $859,000 of the $1 million that was stolen. The three men, including the taxi driver, are in custody assisting with investigations.
Pooran praised the members of the Guyana Police Force for their quick action that led to the arrest of the three men. He noted that he has since positively identified the men as well as his firearm.
This is not the first time the businessman was robbed. He recalled in September 2010, he was shot during a robbery at his lumber yard and exactly one month later his business was again attacked and robbed.

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SWAT Unit feels exposed

…wants Govt to honour pledges

Members of the Special Weapons And Tactics Unit (SWAT) of the Guyana Police Force have complained of receiving threats to

The members of the local SWAT Unit were chosen based on their age, health, mindset, years of service, experience and their overall conduct

The members of the local SWAT Unit were chosen based on their age, health, mindset, years of service, experience and their overall conduct

their lives and that of their family members, and are calling on Government to honour the promises made to them during their training, so that they could at least feel secure.
A few members of the 25-member Unit on Sunday spoke with this publication, expressing fear that their lives could be at risk, following their participation in a recent operation, where a bandit was killed.
After long months of being dormant,in mid July the team  was deployed in an operation which left East Bank Demerara (EBD) resident Rolston Morrison dead. On July 15, the SWAT Unit kicked into action at Craig, EBD, along with a number of regular Police ranks, killing Morrison and rounding up seven others. During the operation one rank was shot and another bandit seriously wounded.
The gunmen – reportedly linked to the murders of businessman Ganesh Ramlall of La Jalousie West Coast Demerara (WCD) and alleged fellow gang member Travis Rudder and also to the vicious attack on Justice Nicole Pierre and her husband on the East Coast – were holed up in an apartment building in the quiet EBD community when Police received a tip that the wanted men were there.
Speaking to Guyana Times on Sunday, the SWAT members said since that operation; the first since they were trained last year, they, along with their family members have been receiving threats. They are fearful, particularly because they do not have any personal weapons to protect themselves.
“Everybody knows the SWAT team. We were in a shootout just the other day. They see our face. The guy that was shot (SWAT member), his family got threatened,” one team member, who asked not to be named, told Guyana Times. He related that the information was passed on to the Assistant Police Commissioner David Ramnarine, seeking out a meeting with him and relevant authority, but so far nothing has happened.
“We have been asking for the Assistant Commissioner to come see us. He or anybody in authority to come and speak to us, so we could at least know what is happening. Since we told them of these concerns, no one has come to see us, no one,” another team member told Guyana Times.
“We have no firearm to take care of ourselves. A lot of us have our families to take care of. We at least want to know that if we go out on such an operation and something happens to us, that our families will be ok. We are not hearing anything, because no one comes to us.”
The team members said their routine, when not in operation, is to “eat, sleep, train and sit down and skin we teeth”. They said too that Government has failed to honour the promises made, when the team began training in January 2014. According to the SWAT team, they were promised “proper equipment, proper vests and personal firearms to move around with”. According to them, none of these promises have been honoured, which plunged them into further distress. Their contention is that even if the Force does not want to give them the firearm, they could at least allow them to be licensed, so that they could themselves purchase their own weapon for their safety.
“They should be paying attention to us; they chose us, although we were already Police Officers. We did not have a choice. They chose us,” another team member told Guyana Times, continuing that “we are well trained and are capable of using a personal firearm”.
They said since their training, the Commissioner of Police has not “set foot” in the base, where they spend most of their time.
The SWAT Unit was established through collaboration between the Government of Guyana and the US-based security and justice reform consultancy firm, The Emergency Group (TEG).
In October 2013, a US$796,987 contract was signed between the then Home Affairs Ministry and US-based high-level team to train the 25-member elite unit.
The members of the local SWAT Unit were chosen based on their age, health, mindset, years of service, experience and their overall conduct. The objective behind the establishment of the Unit was to create additional crime-fighting strategies to deal with serious crimes in the country, which the Police would not be able to handle competently.

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Venezuela demands Guyana corrects gazetted maritime boundary

Border controversy

As tension continues to rise between Guyana and Venezuela over the border controversy, the neighbouring country has demanded

Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

that Guyana immediately correct the recently gazetted maritime boundary law that enacted to demarcate the country’s internal waters.
In a statement published on Venezuela’s Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs website, it was outlined that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejected the content of the maritime regulations that were gazetted on July 23.
“However, the regulation places the Point 1, which aims to establish the western end of the straight baseline corresponding to the mouth of the Essequibo River in Venezuelan territory under dispute under the 1966 Geneva Agreement. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has sent today, through the Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs, a note of protest to the Guyanese Government demanding immediate correction of that Point 1,” the Spanish-speaking country stated.
Guyana has long held that it was not in any dispute over territory with its western neighbour, pointing out the 1899 Arbitration Award, which Venezuela and Great Britain agreed to accept as a final settlement of the border set out the current boundary. This country has stressed that it only agreed to address Venezuela’s contentions in the 1966 Geneva Agreement.
However, in its most recent salvo, Venezuela went on to condemn what it called “recurring provocations and aggressions” by the Guyana Government which was “stoking the conflict between the brother countries”. In addition, the neighbouring country accused Guyana of legitimating “imperialist pretensions against peace within the Latin American and Caribbean Region”.
Guyana’s action to delimit its internal waters comes in the face of renewed claims by Venezuela on more than half of Guyana’s

Second Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge

Second Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge

Atlantic waters. The neighbouring country has remained resolute in its claims that the area which was recently found to have a very rich oil reserve belongs to it, and that the United States based oil drill ship operated by ExxonMobil was operating illegally.
President Nicolás Maduro had even issued a decree to this effect, but later withdrew it after it attracted much attention and pressure from the international community. Nevertheless, the Spanish-speaking country subsequently issued another decree, which purports to set all constitutional, legal and doctrinal elements, create the zone of integral defence and establish the Armed Forces’ tasks in all maritime areas of the country due and legally established.

Internal waters
On Thursday last, Second Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge informed the National Assembly that Government has enacted the Maritime Laws in compliance with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Maritime Zones Act 2010 of Guyana.
The Maritime Zones (internal Waters and River Closing Baselines) Regulation prescribes closing lines across the mouths of the three largest navigable rivers of Guyana – the Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice Rivers. Greenidge explained that the enactment of this legislation allows Guyana to “properly” safeguard its rights over the zones of jurisdiction through baselines.
He went on to say that the baseline establishes the area where national jurisdiction was to be exercised. “Baselines constitute a fundamental aspect of the regime of zones of jurisdiction established by UNCLOS, since the breadth of the maritime zones under national jurisdiction is to be measured from the baselines. The baseline is also the line which establishes the outer limit of internal waters in which the State exercises its full sovereignty,” the Minister stated.
According to the Second Vice President, Section 7 of Maritime Zones Act of 2010 enables the drawing of the baselines to delimit the internal waters of Guyana. Furthermore, he pointed to Section 8, which provides for Guyana’s sovereignty to extend beyond its land territory to the internal waters, the seabed, the subsoil and airspace over the internal waters.
“Guyana has exclusive jurisdiction over its internal waters. Such authority encompasses complete access to and control of our resources, as well as full jurisdiction over all activities of both nationals and foreigners, and for all purposes including enforcement of its national laws and protection of the environment unless distributed by internal laws,” he remarked.
In addition, Greenidge outlined that Section 9 of the Act empowers him as the Foreign Affairs Minister to prescribe by regulation closing lines to delimit our internal waters. “It is in this regard that the Maritime Zones (Internal Waters and River Closing Baselines) Regulations of 2015 were enacted on July 23, 2015,” he stated.

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Christianburg/Wismar are 4-time consecutive champions

Digicel Nationwide Schools Football Tournament…
BY TREISTON JOSEPH

The Christianburg/Wismar Secondary School is now the four-time champion of the Digicel Nationwide Schools Football

The Christianburg/Wismar team celebrate their fourth consecutive title at the presentation ceremony (Treiston Joseph photo)

The Christianburg/Wismar team celebrate their fourth consecutive title at the presentation ceremony (Treiston Joseph photo)

Tournament which concluded on Sunday evening at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.
Christianburg/Wismar was all business on Sunday evening with a 2-1 win against Georgetown’s top team, Chase Academy, to continue their unprecedented run of dominance in the tournament.
After meeting the likes of Christopher Jones, Director of Sport; Minister within the Ministry of Education Nicolette Henry; Digicel’s CEO Kevin Kelly; Marketing Manager of Digicel Jacqueline James and Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Normalisation Committee Member Eric Phillips, both sides seemed energised for the final encounter.
The Linden-based side, while not playing to their usual standards, capitalised on the few chances that were allowed to score twice, with Amar Jones nailing a perfect header into the back of the goal in the fourth minute, much to the amusement of the Linden friendly crowd that packed the red and green stands of the stadium.
The early goal by Christianburg/Wismar was clearly a stunner as the Georgetown side was seemingly deflated during the early moments of the game.
However, despite much more possession and a clear chance in the 19th minute, Chase never really threatened to score as the first half ended 1-0.
With brimming confidence and a much improved fluidity, Christianburg/Wismar secured their fourth title with a well placed left-footed strike from Omar Brewley in the 58th minute of the game to spark wild celebrations.
Kelsey Benjamin would score a consolation goal in the 76th minute of the game to give the Georgetown side a chance but would prove to be too little too late.
With the win, Christianburg/Wismar won themselves one million dollars and a trophy while Chase Academy received $600,000.

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Annai beat Waramadong on penalties for third time

Digicel Nationwide Schools Football Tournament…
BY AVENASH RAMZAN

Three-time losing finalist of the Digicel Schools Football championship Waramadong Secondary had to settle for fourth this time

Annai’s Captain Granville Daniels receives the third place trophy

Annai’s Captain Granville Daniels receives the third place trophy

around as Annai Secondary won the third playoff on penalties on Sunday afternoon at the National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
A large and vocal crowd cheered both teams to the final whistle as regulation time ended with both schools sitting on three goals apiece.
It represented a remarkable comeback from Waramadong, which contested the last three finals against Christianburg/Wismar, but it was Annai’s time to shine, as they won the shootout 4-3.
Annai had a dream start to their quest to emerge victorious, with Sherai Daniels breaching the defence of the goalkeeper as early as the 2nd minute to spark wild celebrations among the players and supporters, and dampening the spirits of the Waramadong players.
Twenty-six minutes later, Daniels was again in the mix, scoring to put his team up by two.
With a firm foot on the game, the Annai lads were controlling proceedings, but the Waramadong boys were awarded a penalty in the dying stages of the first half and Deon Rodrigues duly converted to reduce the margin heading into the break.
Upon resumption, Waramadong equalised in the first minute of play through Aznal Medina, and later surged ahead when Medina netted his second goal in the 64th minute.
Annai then pulled one back eight minutes from regulation time to force the game to penalties.
The game set the tone for a great evening of football, as Christianburg/Wismar went on to defeat Chase Academy 2-1 in the final to cop the title for the fourth successive year.

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Hiding Oil Rig Info

One of the fundamental tenets of democratic governance is the right of the people to have access to information that would enable them to make informed decisions on the performance of their Government. In a startling report in the Sunday Chronicle, Minister of Governance and National Patrimony Raphael Trotman, conceded that a report in a Latin American news agency El Universal stating that the ExxonMobil  Drilling ship/rig Deepwater Champion had departed Guyanese waters, was accurate.

To make matters worse, Trotman claimed the report incorrectly declared that the ExxonMobil rig had only departed a few days ago: it had actually done so since the beginning of June. In one of the biggest non sequiturs ever uttered, Trotman actually said there was “nothing irregular about removal of ExxonMobil vessel from Guyana’s waters”. But what does that have to do with the right of the Guyanese people to be informed about that “regular” action.

After all, ExxonMobil had been given a contract/license to prospect for oil in our waters off our Essequibo Coast by the Government of Guyana. In a continuation of the controversy Venezuela precipitated in 1962, when it claimed the 1899 Arbitral Award that demarcated our boundaries was “void”, Venezuela lodged a protest in early March with ExxonMobil, which of course, was responded to by our Government in a strongly worded note verbale.
The Guyana Government requested “that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela desist from taking any actions that could only result in the stymieing of the development of Guyana and its people and that would be in contravention of international law.” ExxonMobil, for their part, insisted they were operating offshore “under license from the Government of Guyana.”

Tensions between Guyana and Venezuela continued to rise when Exxon declared just before the May elections that their exploratory week determined that the field was “significant”. On May 27 the Government of Venezuela issued a “Decree 1787″ which claimed all of Guyana’s waters and in effect extending its original revanchist border claims into the ocean.

All Guyanese, including the PPP which is now in Opposition, rallied behind the APNU/AFC since this was a matter that affected all Guyana. On July 3, U.S.$100M of Guyanese debt with PetroCaribefor oil shipped by Venezuela in exchange of rice shipped up to that date, was cancelled. On July 4, at the CariCom Summit, President Granger exhorted its Caribbean neighbors to condemn the Venezuelan action to extend its border controversy. Several Guyanese commentators expressed dismay over what they thought was a tepid response by CariCom.

And five days later, Venezuela announced that the rice-for-oil deal under PetroCaribewas  cancelled. This plunged our rice industry into a deep crisis since the Venezuelan market had absorbed some 200,000 tonnes of rice amounting to 1/3 of our production. Our Government subsequently announced that being a private industry, the stakeholders in rice would have to look for new markets.

So the question of whether the Government should have informed the nation that the ExxonOil rig – which was the proximate cause of the new tensions with Venezuela -  goes beyond academic discussions of the people’s “right to know”. A company under contract with the Government to provide a service to the country cannot depart “voluntarily” without informing its principal. Trotman concedes the Government knew that the ExxonMobil rig had departed since he pointed out this was done in “early June” – before the rice contract was broken by Venezuela.

Now it is quite possible that Venezuela would have done what it did regardless, but that is not the issue. It would appear that the Venezuelans only knew that the rig departed in the last few days because according to the Chronicle “the Venezuelan Government welcomed the decision by Exxon Mobil”.  Trotman said the Government is awaiting the next move by ExxonMobil.

Should the next move not lie with the Government to inform the Guyanese people about what exactly is going on in our waters?

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Guyana crowned champions of Regional U19 Tournament

Led by a half century opening partnership Guyana defeated Jamaica to retain the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Regional

Shimron Hetmyer

Shimron Hetmyer

Under-19 50-over tournament here on Sunday.
Openers Tevin Imlach and Shimron Hetmyer produced a 59-run first wicket partnership to help Guyana beat the hosts by four wickets to lift the 2015 championship trophy.
Chasing 246 for victory, Guyana reached 250 for six off 46 overs with Hetmyer scoring 55 and Sherfane Rutherford and Kassem Khan making 45 and 43 not out respectively.
Earlier, Jamaica won the toss and elected to bat with wicketkeeper-batsman Jevoy Spence topscoring with 92 and Brad Barnes hitting 51 not out in their total of 245 for six in the allotted 50 overs.
Spence’s near century came off 140 balls and included nine fours and two sixes. He also shared in key partnerships with Ramone Francis (31), Leonardo Friginette (40), Michael Frew (61) and Barnes (66).
Barnes’ half century came off 38 balls and he was left unbeaten with Odean Smith (13) at the end of the innings.
Akeenie Adams took two for 33 and Keemo Paul also took two for 39….
Guyana got off to a brilliant start in chasing Jamaica’s total with Hetmyer and Imlach frustrating their bowlers to reach 59 for the first wicket. Another 29 runs were added for the second wicket when Hetmyer was run out for 55.
Jamaica made some inroads by removing Balchan Baldeo for 15 but then Rutherford and Khan piled on the runs, scoring 69 for sixth wicket. Rutherford was eventually removed after being caught by Frew off Miguel Smith for 45.
At 218 for six, Guyana were sensing victory and Khan (43) and Parmanand Ramchand (6) led their side to a comfortable win.
Barnes (1-42), Smith (1-43) and Frew (1-44) were the wicket takers for Jamaica.
It was sweet revenge for the Guyanese who lost to Jamaica by five wickets in the first round of the tournament.
It was also the second regional title for Guyana after retaining the Under-15 tournament last week.
Scores:
JAMAICA 245 for six off 50.0 overs (Jevoy Spence 92, Brad Barnes 51 not out, Michael Frew 30; Akenie Adams 2-33, Keemo Paul 2-39)
GUYANA 250 for six 46.0 overs (Shimron Hetmyer 55, Sherfane Rutherford 45, Kassem Khan 43 not out; Brad Barnes 1-42, Miguel Smith 1-43, Michael Frew 1-44). (CMC)

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From what or whom have we emancipated?

Dear Editor,
Because I have detected a marked reluctance by some Editors to carry letters even remotely critical of the present Administration, I am sending this letter to all the major print media houses to prove my point.

I am not politically aligned; never was, never will be. But I am politically conscious. What is truly happening in Guyana is taking all Guyanese down the precipice. For now, the supporters of the present Government are gloating. Over what?

That Ministers of the previous Government are being hauled before the courts? That is nothing new. Even Presidents of several countries have been impeached. What should bother us all is that the previous Government did not prosecute any People’s National Congress Government Ministers when it got into power. And please do not suggest that there was no corruption under the Burnham regime. The Granger regime is still to probe into the involvement of some at its own top echelons. If Minister Ramjattan were to carry out his idle threat to investigate how some people got firearm licenses, I would advise that he starts with the mining community. Remember, two Firearm Licence books went missing from the Police Force? One wonders if these would have been used to issue bogus licenses. One licence was allegedly being sold for $800,000. It is also alleged that $300,000 went to one who is now pretending to be holier than a Saint and $500,000 would have gone to a now deceased top Policeman. Minister Ramjattan should probe these allegations.

The change in Government seems to be just a change of who will now dip into corruption, with no interest in this country’s development. People of this dear land, wake up from your ethnic biased slumber. Corruption existed in both the previous Administrations and the current Government.
August 1 was Emancipation Day but the question is, have we truly been emancipated; and from whom or what?

Faithfully,
Charles Selman

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