Global Witness is withdrawing a report on Guyana’s oil deal with ExxonMobil

Award-winning international transparency watchdog, Global Witness, has removed its ‘Signature Off’ Report on the 2016 oil deal with the Government of Guyana and ExxonMobil in the US.

The announcement was made by the organization in a statement today.

See the full release below:

The climate crisis is the biggest threat facing the world. If we are to prevent its worst effects we must all act now. For Global Witnesses this has meant redirecting our efforts to combat the major drivers of the climate crisis: deforestation, fossil fuel extraction and burning and corporate capture and other abuse of power driving these destructive activities.

Our February 2020 report on Guyana’s oil sector, Signed Away, is out of focus and for this reason we have decided to remove it from our website and stop using it in our campaign work . We are sorry for any unintended negative consequences arising from the report, including its debate in Guyana about actions to tackle climate change.

Since Global Witness began operating in 1993 we have sought to end the environmental devastation that harms so many people around the world – holding the powerful to account in advocating for people who have lost their livelihoods or lives.

However, as the devastating effects of the climate crisis – flood, wilderness, famine – become more severe, it has become clear that our work needs to change. It is no longer enough for Global Witness to require oil and gas businesses to operate in a more transparent and accountable way. To save the climate, we firmly believe that we need to work with others to achieve a just and equitable step out of fossil fuel extraction. To do this, we need to elevate the voices of activists fighting the forces driving the climate down around the world.

Our Signed Away report focused on how much revenue Guyana could get from oil if the government negotiated a fairer deal with oil giant Exxon. Our revenue analysis assumed that the Paris Agreement climate commitments would not be implemented – leading to an overestimation of the amount of oil Guyana was likely to produce and the value of that oil. Under the new institutional strategy we have introduced this year, this is not a scenario we would accept because greenhouse gases must fall by half over the next decade, for the sake of the planet and all of us who n living on it.

Moreover, since publication, oil prices have fallen by more than a third. As COVID-19 continues to reduce demand for fossil fuels and countries implement policies to limit fossil fuel use to tackle climate change, the prospects for sustainable income generation New oil projects are increasingly questionable.

These factors led us to overestimate the potential economic benefit of oil extraction. Based on feedback from civil society representatives in Guyana, we recognize that our report has made it more difficult for them to make the case for stopping oil production in their country.

Global Witness’s decision to withdraw Signed Away is not an endorsement of the way Exxon or Guyanese officials negotiated the oil licenses granted to the company. We stand by the integrity of the evidence we have presented. We also stand by the funding model produced by OpenOil commissioned by Global Witness. Specialist, transparent and informative work, OpenOil and its financial model set standards.

Most importantly, we strongly support the inspirational investigations and campaigns that so many Guyanese correspondents, campaigners and experts have conducted in recent years to increase accountability over the bargains between the Guyana government and Exxon and oil companies others. It is this work that will hold the powerful to account and the Guyanese people should be proud to have such tireless advocates working for them.