South America’s newest oil and gas hotspot cautious about reopening

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Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has assured that his government will be enforcing strong protocols prior to implementing reopening measures in the newest oil producing South American country, where over 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent resources have been discovered so far.

The President gave this assurance during an emergency multi-stakeholder meeting held on Tuesday, August 25. At the meeting President Ali emphasised that any decision taken will be made to ensure a crucial balance is met and only after careful consideration of all the factors.

“…we can move to reopening once we have strong protocols that can be enforced and once we have the institutional mechanism to support those protocols,” the President said.

Guyana, like many other countries around the world, had experienced some slowdown in oil and gas operations due to the travel restrictions put in place to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With a significant increase in tests being done during the month of August, there has been a corresponding increase in positive cases. (See details in OilNOW’s COVID-19 Situational Report to be published Sunday, August 30)

The President said the country must find a way to manage the health issues related to the pandemic in addition to the socio-economic issues that it has spawned.

He noted the vital role of the private sector regarding any decisions to reopen the economy.

“As President, I thought that I have a responsibility to provide leadership on this issue and that leadership must be supported by a wide cross-section of the Guyanese population and their views. So, at the end of this interaction, we will have to revisit some issues and chart the way forward,” President Ali said.

According to a government information bulletin, the President convened the stakeholder meeting to ensure that the decisions taken will be made only after extensive consultation with stakeholders. This also includes the plan to reopen the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

International travel restrictions and the closure of international airports around the world have caused major disruptions in crew change exercises and other activities in the oil and gas sector.

The bulletin said the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) also issued a number of rigid public health guidelines and regulations to airlines, ground handlers and airport authorities ahead of the reopening of airports. “Passengers can be fined from $50,000 to $3M [Guyana dollars] and jailed for five years if they breach the COVID-19 regulations stipulated by the GCAA. The Government of Guyana has assured that strict protocols will be instituted and enforced prior to the reopening of the airport,” the bulletin stated.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation, Darren Woods told investors in May that Guyana remains a key part of the oil major’s long-term growth plans. He said that although faced with the drop in oil prices and challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, ExxonMobil intends to forge ahead with its Guyana operations.

“Guyana remains an integral part of our long-term growth plans and as such is a high priority. Our Liza Phase One operations have been largely unaffected by the pandemic. We have also managed the impact on Liza Phase Two, keeping this project on schedule for 2022 start up,” Woods had said.

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