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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Guyana’s 65-day election could be over in another 25

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OilNow is an online-based Information and Resource Centre which serves to complement the work of all stakeholders in the oil and gas sector in Guyana.

South America’s newest oil producer Guyana could be moving to finally conclude its presidential election which took place on March 2. A recount of all the votes cast is set to get underway today on the outskirts of the country’s capital Georgetown and is expected to be concluded in 25 days.

Allegations of wrongdoing have overshadowed the election for the last 65 days preventing a winner from being declared based on a questionable declaration that was made for the country’s largest district – Region 4. Since that time, a previous attempt to have the votes recounted was thwarted making today’s exercise the second occasion on which an attempt to resolve the issue by way of a recount is being made.

All eyes will be on Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, whose oversight of the process will be key to ensuring there is not a repeat of the circumstances that led to the record delay in determining a winner.

The recount will determine if the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition remains in office or the opposition PPP/C returns to government.

The delay in declaring a winner and establishing a government has been blamed for being at least partially responsible for project approval delays in the oil and gas industry.

Just last Friday, ExxonMobil’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods told investors on the company’s Q1 earnings call that the ongoing elections process was slowing down the project approval for the Payara Development at the Stabroek Block where the company is operator.

Director of Guyana’s Department of Energy (DE) Dr. Mark Bynoe had also told OilNOW in April that in view of recent national and international events, approval for the project remained under evaluation. Dr. Bynoe at a press conference on Monday told reporters the review of the Payara Field Development Plan is fairly advanced. He said some preliminary issues have been raised with ExxonMobil and the DE continues to engage the company.

Former Trinidad and Tobago Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has said the protracted elections could see Guyana losing hundreds of millions of US dollars from delay in project approvals.

“All things being equal, a dollar earned in 2025 is more valuable than a dollar earned in 2026. Considering the nominal value of 220,000 bopd [for the Payara Development], that loss could run into the hundreds of millions of US dollars on a Net Present Value basis,” Ramnarine said.

ExxonMobil has to date found more than 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources at Stabroek and is expected to ramp up production to more than 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2026.

With billions of dollars in revenue expected to be flowing to Guyana, it remains in the country’s best interest to ensure the election is concluded in a credible manner so that a government can be installed.

Thanks to its emerging petroleum industry, Guyana will enjoy by far the world’s fastest expansion this year, and will be the only country in the Americas to see any growth at all, the International Monetary Fund has said.

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