The people of Grenada have been kept too much in the dark on what appears to be a secret oil and gas deal which the two top men in the ruling New National Party (NNP), Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his deputy, Finance and Energy Minister Gregory Bowen have signed with the Russian investors operating under the banner of Global Petroleum Group (GPG).
This deal was being promoted in the days leading up to the 2018 general election as significant in that millions of dollars will flow into the coffers of the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance as the results from two offshore wells in Grenadian waters were exciting.
Within months of this announcement, the country became aware of reports in newspapers in Trinidad about an agreement signed between GPG and the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago to co-operate on the deposits found in the wells.
THE NEW TODAY was made to understand that the Trinidad Company was prepared to allow GPG to use its platform in these waters to extract the gas that was found.
It should be noted that the agreement was for gas and not oil due to the understanding that the latter was very deep underneath the seabed and more costly to get at than the gas deposits.
In recent months, there has virtually been a news blackout on the gas in our waters as Covid-19 swept across the globe and affected virtually every country on the face of the earth.
Reports also surfaced that GPG was in dire financial straits and was looking to the Chinese to provide the funds to continue with exploration in our waters.
And in the past week, the Prime Minister was singing a very much different tune unlike back in 2018 when he asked for another mandate from the electorate to spend the millions that will be coming in from the expected buoyancy because Grenada was now a player in the oil and gas business.
Dr. Mitchell was a shadow of himself last Sunday in an interview with some local talk show hosts as he tried to play down the current oil and gas situation and was frank to the point when he said, “I cannot tell you if I was an investor in fossil fuel at this time that that will be the best place to put my money when the whole world saying we have to move away from that.”
This is a very startling admittance from a leader who had hyped up the entire nation just over three years ago about the millions of dollars that will flow into Grenada’s coffers from oil and gas.
The sad truth is that most of the people living in Grenada do not know anything about the deal which PM Mitchell and Bowen signed with the Russians involved in GPG.
Is there a performance clause to protect our valuable assets if the Russian oilmen are performing under par?
There have been whispers over the years that GPG has advanced millions of dollars to the NNP regime as “bail out money” to be offset whenever the expected millions are derived from the sale of oil and gas.
THE NEW TODAY has always been very suspicious of statements made by Prime Minister Mitchell on oil and gas exploration by the Russians in our waters.
In 2018, he told NNP’ites at a rally held two days before the general election and broadcast to the rest of the nation that two oil wells were found by GPG with good prospects.
It is our understanding that the Russians had found gas and not oil and hence the approach that was made to the state-owned company in Trinidad to get involved in the process.
Grenadians are definitely not getting correct information from those in charge of the nation’s affairs about the resources underneath our seabed.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to recognise the contributions made to our landscape by two persons who have passed away in the course of the last week – former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell of St. Vincent & the Grenadines and former Clerk of Parliament, Basil Harford.
The two played vastly different roles in the advancement of our democracy especially after it was ruptured by the 1979-83 period of Marxist rule by the New Jewel Movement-led People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of executed Prime Minister Maurice Bishop.
Sir James was among a group of centrist leaders in the Eastern Caribbean who helped to facilitate the October 25, 1983 U.S-led military intervention of Grenada to restore law and order following the seizure of power by the Bernard Coard gang of killers in a bloody and violent coup.
The late Vincentian leader also helped to create the NNP, now headed by current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell when leaders of four so-called moderate political groups – H.A Blaize, George Brizan, Winston Whyte and Dr. Francis Alexis were brought to one of the Grenadine islands known as Union Island and forced to come together in one single political entity to prevent a possible return of Eric Gairy in the 1984 general election.
In the case of Basil Harford, he served as Clerk of Parliament during a stint when Grenada had returned to Westminster style democracy.
Mr. Harford was one of the most maligned public officers in Grenada in recent years and was made to feel the full brunt of political victimisation by different regimes that governed the island since Independence in 1974.
This former Permanent Secretary knew what it was to feel the wrath of Eric Gairy in the 1970’s and even up to his time of forced retirement from the service at the hands of the current occupant on the 6th Floor in the Botanical Gardens, Keith Claudius Mitchell.
The Lord has moved and called home both Sir James and Basil for a new task which is unknown to us mortal souls.
THE NEW TODAY extends heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of these two personalities who have departed this life on earth.