Toshaos urged to craft plan to benefit from oil and gas resources
DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 14, 2019
Production of oil is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020, and the country is projected to receive more than $62Billion (US$300M) in the first year. With this in mind, the Director of the Department of Energy (DE), Dr. Mark Bynoe has called on Indigenous leaders to craft a strategic plan to ensure their communities benefit equally from those resources.
Dr. Bynoe was at the time addressing the over 200 Toshaos and other Indigenous leaders in Georgetown for the 13th National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
He said, “It must not just be a band-aid solution to address an immediate need, it should be focused towards where is it you want to go as a community, as a village and how is it you are going to get there… the biggest question that people ask is ‘when the monies begin to flow, how much will come to my region?’ The first thing I say is to have a plan… that in time to come you can have a defined pathway of how you w2ill be able to improve the wellbeing of your people,” Dr Bynoe advised the leaders
The DoE Director also explained that Guyana will not automatically be transformed with first oil since the $62Billion only represents about 10% of Guyana’s current Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“It is important that we understand that as we move forward within this sector… that we need to prioritise. Government also needs to prioritise as there are multiple demands on the limited resources, they have at their disposal inclusive of improvement in health care, education, enhanced infrastructure, enhanced water quality, while also seeking to ensure that we have more sustainable livelihood opportunities,” the director stated.
While providing an overview of the new and emerging sector, Dr. Bynoe explained that in terms of direct benefits, Guyana is entitled to 2% royalty and 12.2% of profit oil in the initial stages. As it relates to direct employment opportunities, to date there are over 1,300 Guyanese who are already employed directly in the sector. Guyana has also benefitted from over $150M already injected into the sector.
He further outlined that going forward, indirect benefits will include associated gas which can help in electricity stability and the reduction of the cost of energy; and even more training opportunities. Dr. Bynoe added that while the administration is keen on ensuring all Guyanese are getting their ‘fair share’, just as important is the fact that their capacity is built through training to ensure they are working alongside those external experts to ensure those skills are transferred.
The Toshaos called for more education and awareness programmes on oil and gas within the hinterland villages. The DE head said that the department has recognised the need to conduct more awareness sessions in these areas and will be moving in that direction.
Guyana first discovered oil in May 2015. To date, ExxonMobil has made 14 discoveries that approximate around 6 billion recoverable barrels of oil; while Tullow has made 2 discoveries.