Guyana praised for approach in handling oil wealth

International News agency, headquartered in New York, Bloomberg News, has joined the scores of organisations praising the government’s unconventional approach to handling the large quantities of oil estimated to be located offshore Guyana.

Bloomberg was established with the intention of delivering business and finance-related news to its subscribers.

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In a recent episode of its podcast, ‘The Big Take’, which encompasses indepth investigative reporting about international issues, host, Wes Kosova, zeroed in on Guyana, not only as a newly oil-rich country, but as one in the ‘crosshairs’ of climate change.

He also discussed the significance of the oil discoveries in Guyana’s waters, and their magnitude, which industry experts have estimated to be around that of China.

“You look at a country like China, and then you look at Guyana… If you look at the population sizes, for every person in Guyana, there are 1,750 people in China. It would be an enormous find for any country, but when you consider how small Guyana [is], this [is] just completely transformational,” he said.

Bloomberg investigative journalist, Monte Reel, outlined to listeners the strategy the government of Guyana has for utilising the wealth amassed from oil revenue to build a non-oil-dependent economy that would last for years after the world has shifted to sustainable energy.

“They came up with a plan, and they said, ‘we’re going to be a different kind of oil producer… an environmentally friendly, environmentally sustainable oil producer. We’re going to kind of chart a new course in this field’. And so… they came up with a plan to use the oil revenue to try to build infrastructure that would mitigate the effects of climate change. For example, it would reinforce the seawalls, would help work on upgrading the canals. So, it would pay for the damage that climate change was doing to Guyana,” he explained.

But beyond that, he noted, Guyana wanted to build a green infrastructure, the focus of which was the construction of an economy powered 100 per cent by renewable energy, funded by revenues earned from the production of oil.

“They wanted to diversify the economy and build an energy grid that is powered 100 per cent by renewable energy. So, there are plans for hydroelectric dams, and wind power for solar facilities. They wanted to build a completely post-oil economy essentially. They wanted to set that up, using oil funds to put them in a position to thrive when oil was no longer a business,” Reel detailed.

The two discussed how controversial some persons found that Guyana was investing in fossil fuels, and that persons had even argued that in the modern world, Guyana should move away from non-renewable sources.

However, they reminded that there were no resources to invest, and pointed out that oil production is necessary for the country, in order to generate substantial revenue to invest in sustainable energy.

“So, it’s easy for others to say, you should put your resources toward a green energy, but if you have no resources, there’s nothing to put there,” Kosova underlined.

Reel agreed, stating, “The leaders of Guyana will point out that the developed countries of the world, the ones that have created more greenhouse gas emissions, than undeveloped countries like Guyana, that they have kind of dropped the ball in terms of compensating countries like Guyana that did not really contribute to the problem. So, [Guyana’s] argument is, you know, the developed world didn’t step up. We have to step up for ourselves. And to deny us the opportunity to use this resource isn’t fair.”

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, speaking of developed countries, stated:

“They have the necessary resources to adapt to climate change. They have the necessary resources to invest in alternative energy. They have the capital that came from the exploration of natural resources. We have a reality. We have a coastline where more than 80% of the people live that is more than six feet below sea level.

“Who is going to pay to ensure that we have the type of mitigation and adaptation measures to prevent the catastrophic type of flooding a rising sea level can bring? We have to build this infrastructure. Where is the revenue going to come from?”

The government has expended major revenue thus far towards infrastructure, agriculture, mining, sustainable energy development such as the Amaila Falls hydro project and the hinterland solar farms, as well as a number of other investments to ensure that Guyana has an advanced, sustainable non-oil economy that endures far beyond the use of fossil fuels.