Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Guyana taking right steps to avoid pitfalls of oil producing nations, says British High Commissioner

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With only two and a half years as an oil producer, Guyana has been taking firm steps to steer clear of the commonly made mistakes and pitfalls of the petroleum industry thus far.

This, according to the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, sets the South American nation apart from the rest and guarantees a flourishing future ahead.

Appearing on a local radio show – Guyana’s Oil and You hosted by Senior Journalist Kiana Wilburg – the British diplomat commended the government’s economic plan for the massive oil revenues accrued in the Natural Resource Fund (NRF).

And though warning bells ring about Guyana possibly falling victim to the dreaded ‘oil curse’, the High Commissioner said that the country is already on a path to avoiding this.

“The big trick is to use those oil resources into long-term sustainable assets – things like roads and bridges and hospitals and schools and into long-term renewable projects,” she said. “So, if you look at Guyana’s budget, you will see that the money is going towards things like roads, power and into schools and a major asset – the people… So, Guyana has learned from the lessons of the world.”

Guyana’s revision of the NRF was also commended by the High Commissioner. The critical piece of legislation was created back in 2019 and then revamped in 2021 by the current government. It now includes harsh penalties such as a 10-year prison term for failure to disclose receipt of oil revenues. It also paved the way for the creation of Guyana’s NRF Board – headed by former Army Chief of Staff, retired Major General Joe Singh.

Further, a big step in the right direction for Guyana, according to the British High Commissioner, was joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The country has been using the platform to report on its mining, oil and gas, forestry and fisheries sectors and to strengthen systematic disclosure of extractive data, its disclosures of extractive contracts and beneficial ownership.

“I am very pleased that Guyana joined EITI because transparency is key and EITI brings together the three major players on the extractive industry – the private sector, its government and civil society, and these are important to ensure that transparency holds together,” the High Commissioner said.

Guyana has looked to nations like Ghana, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela for lessons on what not to do with its nascent oil industry.

The country has a resource base of nearly 11 billion oil equivalent barrels and counting, as ExxonMobil and its partners continue exploration activities in the offshore Stabroek Block. Over 30 discoveries have already been made on the block.

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