With the South American country of Guyana just months away from first oil and possible early election, the main opposition party says it would like to see measures being put in place to ensure the country’s emerging petroleum sector is managed through a bi-partisan process.
Leader of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), Bharrat Jagdeo, told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that full inclusivity in the management of oil revenue will ensure benefits reach a wide-cross section of people across the country. He said regardless of the outcome of the next election, his party believes the country will only see meaningful benefits from the oil and gas sector if stakeholders representing Guyanese across the political divide have a say in how the billions of dollars expected in the coming years, is managed.
“We would like to see the sector, even with a PPP government in office, managed in a bi-partisan way where it rises above politics and that the resources are used to benefit all Guyanese,” he said.
In this regard, the opposition leader disclosed that his party has been examining various models which could be used to further this cause and while external advice will be sought, all efforts will be made to ensure the plan of action is decided on by Guyanese.
“We are not slaves to consultants who often work for the oil companies. We have been exploring ourselves, in-house, studying a lot of the experiences of other countries – of course seeking technical advice – but the final decision will be made by the Government of Guyana,” Mr. Jagdeo stated. “So, it will be a decision that is appropriate for our country and for our people, not something that any consultant would just come in, cut and paste and hand over to us. Often these things reflect more the interest of foreign companies than our own people.”
The opposition leader said the PPP/C has been working extensively on putting together “several features of a local content policy” to ensure benefits from oil and gas are enjoyed by all Guyanese.
“For the sector to be successful, the benefits must be felt by all of our people wherever they live [across Guyana]. People of every race and class; they must feel the benefits from that sector,” he stated.
Focus is being placed on key aspects of local content, he said, so that ideas can swiftly develop into policy. This includes “more opportunities for our people, better management of the flows that are to come to Guyana, definition of their use, how much will be used for inter-generational equity, infrastructure, and how much must go back to our people for better education, job opportunities and health care.”
He said the opposition party would like to see a model where the major parties of the country sit together in the future to oversee this process regardless of who is in power.
To date, US oil major ExxonMobil has found more than 5.5 billion barrels of oil offshore Guyana. Oil production is set to begin by Q1 2020 with the 120,000 bpd Liza Phase 1 Development. Production from multiple developments is expected to exceed 750,000 bpd by 2025.