Ricketts Questions Biden’s Short-Sighted Refusal to Back Oil & Gas Projects, Opening Door for CCP
March 31, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) questioned the Biden administration’s policy of blocking oil and gas projects with partners like Guyana while relieving sanctions on oil-rich adversaries like the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela.
“The Biden administration’s refusal to engage with our partners on their energy projects is opening the door to even more Chinese Communist Party investment and engagement around the world,” Ricketts said after the hearing. “I want to thank Sen. Kaine for reinforcing this point later in the hearing based on his firsthand experience discussing the issue with Guyana. When our partners can’t count on the United States, they will look elsewhere. Even worse, when they see us relieve sanctions on their energy competitors it leaves them baffled. We will not continue to be the cornerstone of global peace and prosperity if we prioritize a liberal climate agenda over our strategic and national security interests.”
Ricketts’ questions were directed at Nicole D. Theriot, who is nominated to be Ambassador to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Thursday, March 30, 2023.
Watch the full exchange HERE and read a transcript below.
Senator Ricketts: “On a more somber note, all of you are going to face the challenges the Chinese Communist Party poses. President Xi has said that essentially, he wants to be the world-dominating power by 2049. I don’t think that’s in any of our interest – anywhere around the world that not going to be a good thing.
“Ms. Theriot I want to talk a little bit about Guyana. You know, obviously, they’re a democracy and a friend, which is a welcome thing in our part of the world. It’s so close to us.
“As mentioned, in 2015, Exxon Mobil made a discovery of oil there. And I think that on a per capita basis, only Kuwait has more oil than Guyana now. We certainly want to encourage that development in a responsible way. I think you said earlier that American companies provide that reliability, correct?
“My understanding is Guyana Shore Base, a private company based in Georgetown, asked the Inter-American Development Bank, IDB, for help in upgrading the Guyanese infrastructure. And IDB proposed $180 million in debt financing for the project. The Biden administration vetoed that, though, and the reasoning is they didn’t want to back oil and gas projects.
“I think that’s short-sighted given that China has no such restrictions, and is aggressively signing contracts to build infrastructure in Guyana and around the world. And certainly, I think we would all agree that we’re going do a better job than that.
“Of course, you contrast that with the administration then providing sanctions relief to Venezuela’s authoritarian Maduro regime to boost oil production. What are your thoughts on the Biden administration’s decision to block the IDB loan?”
Ms. Theriot: “Thank you very much, Mr. Ranking Member.
“That decision was made in March 2022. I would say that things have changed significantly since the war on Ukraine has dragged on and energy security is a real concern and a significant issue.
“What I would do if confirmed, is to make sure that there’s a level playing field for U.S. companies in Guyana, I think that is our entree into ensuring that China does not take over this industry. I think it’s incredibly important that we remain the preferred partner in Guyana, whether it be the U.S. government for security cooperation or U.S. companies for oil and gas development. That is something that I would work diligently to ensure.”
Ricketts: “So, do you think blocking the IDB loan was against our strategic interest?”
Theriot: “Blocking the IDB loan was in line with the current Biden administration – their priority to not contribute further to the oil and gas development of fossil fuels. I think that because that vote is no longer an issue, that we can only move forward to ensure that U.S. companies are given a level playing field in the country.”
Ricketts: “Well, the world’s changed since the invasion of Ukraine. Do you think if that were to come up again, that the Biden administration would allow that loan to go forward for a U.S. company to develop the resources there?”
Theriot: “I wouldn’t want to speculate on that. I think we’d have to see what the decision would be. Guyana’s oil and gas sector is developing very well through private sector investment, and I can’t speculate on what the result of that vote would be, sir.”
Ricketts: “Do you know what Guyana’s reaction to the decision to block the IDB loan was?”
Theriot: “They were quite displeased.”
Ricketts: “Do you believe that Guyana views the U.S. as an unreliable partner would turn to China because of that?”
Theriot: “No, sir, I don’t think that’s the case. They’ve shown time and time again, that we are the preferred partner – both the U.S. government and U.S. companies.”
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