Vice President of Guyana, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo believes that it is unrealistic to call for the developing South American country to leave its giant oil discoveries – made over the past five years – undeveloped, while the needs of the country’s people remain largely unmet.
Mr. Jagdeo, who also served as President from 1999 to 2011, was on Thursday night speaking on a local radio show – ‘Guyana’s Oil and You’.
Some persons over the years have been calling for the oil exploration and production activities offshore Guyana to be shelved due to their concerns about its impact on the environment. However, Dr Jagdeo countered this argument by putting the plight of the people of the country ahead of such potential risks.
“There are many people saying now that we should not be producing oil. We don’t have that option in Guyana. Our people badly need development and we have to make sure that we produce the oil and get as much development out of it for our people to invest long term in other sectors so that they can get wealthier and have a decent life,” he said.
The Vice President noted that the new government intends to rely on the advice of experts to ensure that its decisions on the industry are sound.
“We can’t shut down the industry as some people have been calling for. We are going to be driven by the technical expertise. The oil and gas industry will be vital to our future and we have to do it well,” he said. “We have made it clear that we are going to try as far as possible to ensure that Guyanese benefit from these resources,” he reiterated.
Prior to the approval of oil field development plans, companies are required to ensure, with approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, that they have considered all of the risks connected to the offshore operations and have robust systems in place for mitigation.
Over 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources have been found at the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana since 2015 and the country began producing oil last December. It is estimated that output will exceed 1 million barrels per day by the end of the decade, catapulting Guyana to one of the top producers in the region.