On 31 March 2008, just months before the 8 July elections, the NNP Government entered into a Production Sharing Agreement with Global Petroleum Group (GPG) for the “exploration, development and production of offshore petroleum resources of Grenada.”
The agreement was signed against the legal advice of Grenada’s lawyers, who specialise in energy law, and also, against the advice of an expert team from the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Also on 31 March 2008, Government issued GPG with an Exploration Licence (the licence) giving GPG exploratory rights over 11 blocks. In issuing the licence, government did not comply with the provisions of the Petroleum & Natural Gas Deposits Act, Chapter 240 of the 1990 Revised Laws of Grenada, or the Natural Gas Deposits Regulations, SRO No. 14 of 2007.
GPG is a private company that was formed in 2003 apparently, for the specific purpose of entering into the agreement with government. None of the principals of GPG had prior experience or expertise in the oil and gas industry.
When NDC took office in July 2008, and saw that government’s advisors found the agreement disadvantageous, we sought additional advice from Dynamic Global Advisors (DGA), an independent team of oil and gas experts based in Texas. DGA agreed with the earlier experts that the deal was a bad one. They went further and said the agreement was “so blatantly one-sided in favour of GPG, that it constitutes a reprehensible bargain between the parties.”
With this opinion from DGA, the NDC Government tried its best to re-negotiate the agreement with GPG so that Grenada could benefit from its oil reserves. By then it was mid-2012, the elections were close at hand, GPG was not co-operating and NNP was supporting GPG (not Grenada), making all kinds of noises, misleading and lying to the people.
After NNP won the elections in 2013, it announced that it would proceed with the arrangement with GPG. The agreement signed on 31 March 2008, was due to expire in late 2012. As of today, the NNP has not told the nation whether they went ahead with this 2008 reprehensible agreement, or whether they took the opportunity to sign a new, more beneficial agreement. In fact, everything about the current arrangement has been hidden from the people of Grenada, treated as top secret, while we have to look to regional and international newspapers for information. The NDC strongly condemns this treacherous conduct against the people of Grenada.
On 21 September 2017, a report in the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper indicated that Grenada [GPG] had discovered oil in its waters close to our border with Venezuela. Only after this and another report in an international online energy magazine, did our Prime Minister confirm that yes, oil was discovered. Our government never saw it fit to break this ‘good news’ to the people. Was this because they knew that the news was only good for GPG?
Since then, all news relating to developments in our oil and gas sector has originated from outside Grenada. Government only makes reactionary, vague statements when forced to. Of course, the one exception was the election gimmick at Pearls on the eve of elections when Mitchell once again tomfooled the people.
Again, on 21 March 2019, in Parliament, in responding to some questions from our Senator Ron Redhead on the current arrangement with GPG, Senator Simon Stiell, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, told the nation that the deal with GPG was a sensitive commercial contract and therefore confidential and “not subject to public perusal at this time”. What utter hogwash! The people’s business is being kept a secret from the people by those we hire to mind our business.
Despite Stiell’s hogwash, an article appeared in the Trinidad Guardian days later, disclosing a $3.4bn exploration agreement between the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago and GPG. It seems that for the people of Grenada our oil and gas business is a secret, but for the people of Trinidad, it is not.
The NDC finds it deeply troubling that GPG has run into financial difficulties and is getting financial backing from a third party and further, that there was no one at the signing with NGC to look after the interests of the people of Grenada. We call this out as recklessness and a dereliction of duty of the highest order.
After 2 short years in office, NDC was able to conclude the maritime boundary delimitation agreement with Trinidad & Tobago in 2010. Mitchell claimed that the agreement was bad and he would re-do it. He hasn’t, because he cannot do better. By contrast, we note with concern that he has made absolutely no attempt to do the same with Venezuela since resuming office in 2013. This can have dire consequences for us in future.
The resources and minerals of our land and sea belong to the present and future peoples of Grenada, not Mitchell and his cronies. They are not protecting our patrimony. We call on every patriotic Grenadian to stand up and be counted. Start doing so by adding your voices and making sure we soon put an end to this madness.