Guyana urged to guard against Trinidadian takeover of oil & gas sector

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The Government of Guyana, private sector and citizens at large are being urged to guard against what is being described as a clear attempt by Trinidad & Tobago to monopolize opportunities in the South American country’s emerging oil and gas sector.

Speaking in his weekly OilNOW column; Are We Ready for Prime Time? Guyana’s former Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud, said recent history has shown that the twin island republic has been less than welcoming in their approach to facilitate Guyanese business, but now project an air of ‘entitlement’ for Guyana to do likewise.

Robert Persaud

“For instance, I recall, as Agriculture Minister, the battles we fought to get Trinidad and Tobago to import some of our agricultural produce even when the region’s extra-CARICOM food import bill was US$4 billion, annually,” Persaud, who served as Minister of Agriculture prior to taking up the natural resources portfolio, said.

Trinidad had only cleared six crops to be exported with no poultry and small ruminant meats from Guyana, he said, but at the same time, it was importing agricultural products and meats from North and Central America, and even as far away as New Zealand. “Our producers and exporters were required to climb the Mount Everest of regulations and requirements to get a few produce cleared for entry into the TT market. There are many examples, in other sectors, where red tapes and non-tariff barriers were deployed as devices (not forgetting the infamous Guyanese bench at Piarco) to frustrate our exports,” Persaud lamented.

Turning his attention to Guyana’s emerging oil and gas sector, he said, “With Guyana on the verge of being the next CARICOM oil and gas giant, we see TT in an overdrive mode to ‘lecture’ and ‘influence’ our course of development of this new sector aided and abetted by some local players. Guyana, like a new beauty, is suddenly dazzling the eyes of our TT counterparts and others whom are less bold,” he stated.

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In recent months, interest from Trinidadian companies in business opportunities in Guyana has skyrocketed. A large business delegation from the twin island visited Guyana in June seeking partnerships in the oil and gas sector and other supporting industries. Trinidadian personalities have also been featuring prominently in ongoing public discussions on oil and gas in Guyana.

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Persaud said while Guyana should be open to the experiences of others, there is need for caution. Under his watch, Guyana signed an MoU with Trinidad for mutual cooperation in oil and gas. “The operative word in that MoU was ‘mutual’,” he stressed.

The former natural resources minister pointed to a number of articles and utterances from Trinidadians which he says seem to suggest there is a feeling of entitlement to Guyana’s good fortunes. “Our policy makers and private sector must be on guard…TT is very aggressive to get a chunk of the Guyanese O&G cake, potentially at the disadvantage of our own interest,” he warned.

Persaud went on to outline several steps which can be taken to ensure Guyanese remain the primary beneficiaries of oil and gas wealth and opportunities. Read the full column here: http://oilnow.gy/featured/guyanas-oil-not-anothers-feast/