CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) Friday called on Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony to update the nation regarding the arbitration initiated by US-based oil magnate Jack Grynberg for breach of a multimillion dollar contract.
The Colorado-based RSM Production Corporation, the company owned by Grynbery, has instituted arbitration proceedings against the government in respect of the exploration license which his company was granted several years ago to undertake exploration for oil over a specified area of water offshore of the coast of St Lucia.
Opposition Leader Stephenson King said that the government had announced in May this year that Grynberg had filed a US$500 million claim against St. Lucia.
But he said that since the initial announcement by the government, there has been a deafening silence from Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony despite calls from the opposition and the general public for clarification on the status of the proceedings.
“This matter has serious implications for the control of our offshore resources and our sovereignty as a people,” King said, noting that the agreement was initially signed by Anthony during his first term in office in March, 2000.
“Now that Dr. Anthony is back at the helm of the government as Prime Minister and given his direct involvement in giving life to the now controversial agreement, it is now vital that the current Prime Minister answers some burning questions which continue to linger on what some now refer to as “The Grynberg Affair”,” King said.
He said responses to the questions would no doubt help to influence the legacy he leaves behind after he eventually demits office and political life.
The Opposition Leader said bearing in mind Prime Minister Anthony’s pronouncements for transparency and accountability and his aggressive posture in advocating on matters of national importance, why has he remained so low-keyed and withdrawn in providing disclosure on the matter.
King said that given the Prime Minister’s “privileged position” now that he is in office, he should also inform St. Lucians as to whether or not the former government signed an “extension to the exploration agreement with RSM Productions/Jack Grynberg”.
The arbitration proceedings have been filed with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) and a earlier government statement said that it would vigorously dispute and contest the proceedings.
It said the Attorney General Office was in the process of assessing the claim and securing attorneys to represent the interests of the island.
The government said that RSM was basing its claim on two grounds including the argument that it could not complete its exploration because of the failure to resolve the boundary disputes between St. Lucia and neighbouring states.
RSM is also alleging by letter dated April 10, 2008, the Stephenson King government “took the position that the agreement had expired.”
“By claiming that the agreement has expired, and threatening to place exploration rights in the subject area out to competitive bid, St Lucia has breached the agreement.”