Friday, December 2, 2022

Guyana oil industry should not be Trinidad’s ‘next meal’ – Persaud

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Former Guyanese Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud has shot down a suggestion made over the weekend by Trinidad and Tobago’s Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, saying ‘Guyana is not here to bailout’ the twin-island republic. He also cautioned the Guyana Government regarding a soon to be signed cooperation pact which could see TT companies getting a foothold in Guyana’s emerging oil and gas industry.

Over the weekend, Persad-Bissessar urged Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to pursue a partnership with neighbouring Guyana to refine its oil in order to avert the closure of the Petrotrin refinery.

However, the former Guyanese minister was not having it, calling the Trinidad state-owned oil company a failed enterprise.

“Madame Opposition Leader of TT do not look to Guyana to bailout a failed enterprise -Petrotrin refinery. Your track record as PM, in relation to treatment of Guyanese and trade in Guyanese products, is appalling as your predecessors and successor. Guyana’s oil and gas industry, as I have said before, should not be TT or anyone’s next meal,” Persaud told OilNOW on Sunday.

“Do remember none or even limited opportunities were given to Guyanese during TT’s 110 years plus as an oil and gas producer.  Guyana will neither be the bogey-man in your political gambits nor be allowed to be only the convenient rainy-day friend because we are to be the next largest oil and gas economy of the Caribbean,” he said.

Persaud said he wishes the people in Trinidad’s oil and gas sector well, “But as TT has always demonstrated, our people’s interest comes first. Only we – Guyanese, will determine the course of our oil and gas sector.”

Warning bells

Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago Franklin Khan disclosed that Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago are soon to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation. It is yet unknown what the details of the MoU are.

However, Persaud urged the Guyana Government to consider the ramifications of such a commitment. “I do urge the Government of Guyana to be cautious in making long-term commitments so as not to tie our hands and limit our options in oil refining, gas for energy production and other related aspects,” he said.

Noting that an MoU was signed back in 2013 between the two countries, Persaud said that the Granger administration should seek to ensure that the collaboration leads to the improvement of Guyana’s petroleum sector. He said the focus of any such agreement should be development of local capacity “and rolling out a sound, practical local content framework for Guyanese and Guyanese businesses’ participation in the short-term in upstream and midstream oil and gas activities.”

However he expressed the hope that Trinidad is not using the MoU as a Trojan horse.

“Hopefully, this new MoU is not being used as a ruse by TT government to promote TT domination of services in Guyana to the oil and gas sector given the failings of its own energy sector,” Persaud stated.

He said that Guyana is already witnessing the “massive” encroachment by TT businesses to lock-down services to the emerging oil and gas sector under the pretext of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

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