Just over a year before the South American country of Guyana welcomes its proceeds from offshore oil and gas resources, it has been plunged into political turmoil.
The Guyana Government which enjoyed a one-seat majority, was on Friday night defeated in a vote of no-confidence when one of its members, Charrandas Persaud switched sides and voted in favour of the motion filed by Opposition Leader and former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Persaud belonged to the Alliance For Change (AFC) – the smaller faction of the coalition Government. He faces expulsion from the AFC and may be mulling leaving the country, according to reports.
Guyana had only changed government three years ago in 2015 –the same year that ExxonMobil announced its first major oil find at the Liza-1 well. The company has since announced ten discoveries bringing the country’s prospects to more than five billion barrels of recoverable oil.
Speaking at a press conference following the defeat, Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo urged supporters to maintain peace in order to protect investments.
“We want our people to maintain the peace, the good order, the stability of our country, we want nothing to happen in our society that will affect the stability and peace and we want nothing to happen to affect the business community in this particular period that you have a lot of activities in the street,” he told those gathered at a press conference at the Parliament building, Georgetown.
“We also want to take the opportunity to inform Guyanese that they should go about their business in the usual way,” he added, noting that the outcome of the confidence motion has to be accepted.
“The parliamentary democracy in a sense triumphed,” the Prime Minister said, though the vote was not cast in his favour.
Citizens will be going to the polls to cast their vote for a new Government within 90 days as is required by the law unless there is sufficient reason to delay the elections.
The country’s president, David Granger is currently undergoing Chemotherapy treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – a type of cancer.
According to critics, the fight to win the next General and Regional Elections has to do more with who will get to control the country’s oil wealth.
Recent reports indicated that Guyana leads the way ahead of industry giants the United States of America and Russia in terms of barrels of oil equivalent (boe) petroleum discoveries for the year 2018.
According to a report from Rystad Energy, “2018 stands already as the best year for global oil and gas exploration since 2015. Guyana, Russia and the United States top the list with major discoveries.”
Production is expected to commence with the Liza Phase 1 at a rate of 120,000 barrels per day from mid 2020.