US Oil Company, ExxonMobil’s announcement on Monday that the updated total estimated recoverable resources for the Stabroek Block, offshore Guyana now stand at more than 4 billion oil-equivalent barrel is a “big deal for Guyana.” This is the view of the country’s Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, in reacting to the news at his Duke Street, Georgetown office hours after it was announced.
While acknowledging this is great for Guyana, Mr. Trotman said, “At the same time it does bring a greater sense of responsibility because even as we are now in a position to earn far more than what we are expected to earn and what the so-called experts say what we are entitled to, we have to focus more attention on how we manage than how much we have.”
He also noted that this “excellent” development is happening at a time when the country is experiencing some negative publicity.
The Minister was referring to a July 20 New York Times Article, titled, “The $20 Billion Question for Guyana”, which was written by journalist Clifford Krauss. Aspects of the article that described the country as having limited paved highways, school children commuting to school via dugout canoes and the capital being a ‘clapboard’ city did not sit well with Guyanese on social media. Public reaction to the article has been one of outrage based on the perception expressed by some that it paints the country and people as backwards and inept.
The Minister, who has oversight responsibility for the oil and gas sector, said, “It comes alongside, of course, other news; for example in the New York times that paints this country as some kind of backward place. I saw that article open up with saying that children go to school in canoes. Yes, in some remote parts of Guyana that is so and quite frankly, I believe that where the only means of transportation is the water or the river that remains a very viable form of transportation. It is who we are, we have no embarrassment about it and I am quite disappointed that somebody could take a slice of life in the country and build a whole narrative around a few negatives.”
Nevertheless, he said, “I am happy that this news (updated estimated oil reserves) continues to put us in a positive light. Many years ago people only associated Guyana with Jonestown and this is going to slowly but surely change that narrative.”
Commercial oil production is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020 in Guyana with an estimated 120,000 barrels per day. With multiple developments set to come on stream following the Liza Phase 1 Development, ExxonMobil estimates production could hit approximately 750,000 barrels per day by 2025.