Guyana sets new global standard with rapid oil and gas legislation – Nandlall

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In just a few years, Guyana has achieved what many other nations have taken decades to accomplish in the oil and gas sector, said Attorney General Anil Nandlall. 

“I don’t want to be accused of blowing our own trumpet, but by any standard, I believe that Guyana has done remarkably well. In the four years that we have been in government, in this oil and gas sector… the accomplishments that we have made. The legislation alone is phenomenal,” Nandlall said during an appearance on the Guyana Energy Perspectives Podcast, published June 9. 

He said Norway, considered one of the world’s wealthiest economies, took over 40 years to reach a similar milestone; while Guyana has managed to do the same in just four years under the Irfaan Ali-led government. 

“We did it in two years. Our local content legislation stands out,” Nandlall said, pointing out that this was done by studying and adapting best practices from over 15 countries around the world.

For the oil and gas sector, Guyana’s major pieces of legislation are the Petroleum Activities Bill which replaced the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 1986; and the Local Content Act – two Acts that, according to Nandlall, stand out as a “model” in the global arena.

He said too that Guyana has strategically utilized revenues from the sector to fuel its development. This year, the National Assembly approved the withdrawal of US$1.586 billion (approx. GY$330 billion) from the Natural Resource Fund to support Guyana’s US$5.496 billion (GY$1.146 trillion) national budget. The government overhauled the legislation governing the fund in 2021.

“We have not traveled the road that other countries have traveled of over-dependence on the sector. In fact, the backbone of our economic plan is one predicated upon diversification,” the Attorney General said.

He explained that the proceeds from the sector are being used to strengthen Guyana’s agricultural sector, which remains the foundation of the nation’s economy. 

However, energy remains a challenge for the nation, with high electricity costs and constant blackouts plaguing the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Nandlall added that the government is pursuing solutions like the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), the Gas-to-Energy project which will utilize natural gas piped from the Exxon-operated Stabroek Block, and other sources to help address these issues.

The rapid progress in the oil and gas sector is just one aspect of Guyana’s broader developmental agenda, as Nandlall shared examples of ongoing projects, including new courts, offices, and commercial registries. 

“Give us 20 more years in this sector, and you will see what will happen if we have been able to achieve so much in just four years,” Nandlall said.

He said challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and financial constraints inherited by the current administration make its accomplishments even more notable.

Against this backdrop, the Minister of Legal Affairs said Guyana is setting a precedent for emerging producers, who can now look at the nation’s rapid, balanced and sustainable development in the industry as an example. 

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