Top official promises Guyanese ‘good life’ from oil bounty

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With oil reserves in Guyana now exceeding 5.5 billion barrels from a record 13 discoveries made to date by US oil major ExxonMobil, a top official in the country with responsibility for petroleum is promising Guyanese the ‘good life’ from the revenue expected when production begins in 2020.

Commenting on the latest discovery at the Yelllowtail-1 well announced on April 18 by ExxonMobil, Director of Guyana’s Department of Energy (DE), Dr. Mark Bynoe, said, “the real substance of these finds will accrue only when citizens are able to benefit directly or indirectly from these discoveries.

He said while the South American country is already seeing substantial uptick in investment ventures, the DE will be relentless in ensuring that the country optimize the returns from the petroleum resources, for all of Guyana.

“The rate of these oil discoveries demonstrates the magnitude of Guyana’s natural resources. For years, Guyanese have heard of the country’s oil potential and we are now seeing it manifesting. The Department of Energy intends to employ international best practice in managing this resource and the monies that will be derived therefrom to give Guyanese ‘the good life’ that is in consonance with the construct of the Green State Development Strategy,” Dr. Bynoe added.

Authorities in Guyana have been criticized for not yet having key pieces of legislation in place although the country will begin producing oil within months. While a wealth fund to manage oil revenue was signed into law in January, the Petroleum Commission, the regulating body for the sector, has not yet been formulated and a national oil spill response plan is yet to be finalized. Additionally, a local content policy framework is still to be implemented.

The sloth in finalizing key pieces of legislation has been worsened by a no-confidence vote carried in December which adversely affected government’s agenda. A final decision on whether the vote was properly carried is expected over the next month from the Caribbean Court of Justice.  

Nevertheless, officials have said key initiatives in preparation for first oil are expected to be completed over the next few months and have vowed to ensure the windfall expected from oil production is managed with the highest degree of transparency and accountability.

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