Home African Caribbean Guyana Energy Conference 2023 Part I: Guyana Exploration Still in Early Phase

Guyana Energy Conference 2023 Part I: Guyana Exploration Still in Early Phase

by D Fitz-Roberts
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After a very successful first Guyana Energy Conference in 2022, the anticipation and buzz around the second instalment slated for the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown February 14th to 17th 2023, was immense.

Photo By: HenleyCaribbean Local Rep. Quindel Williams

Notwithstanding the Guyana Press Association’s (GPA) vocal objection to the event organisers’ decision to restrict media access to delegates and certain influential participants as well as the sudden withdrawal of internationally renowned economics professor, Jeffrey Sachs who originally committed to serve as a keynote speaker at the event; the first day started on a high note.

The International Energy Conference and Expo 2023 under the theme, ‘Harnessing Energy for development,’ aims to bring oil and gas decision makers together with government leaders to examine ways to meaningfully contribute to a global sustainable energy future.

Photo By: HenleyCaribbean Local Rep. Quindel Williams

In light of the impending global energy crisis brought about, in part, by the Russia – Ukraine war, dwindling oil production from OPEC countries, rising fuel and energy costs, Guyana is steadfast in its pursuit to embrace renewable energy technology from its fossil-fuel exploration efforts.

To this end Guyana’s Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo stated to the conference on Tuesday 14th February that a new oil production-sharing contract is in place to be finalised in time for a scheduled auction expected to consider bids up to the middle of April 2023. He also confirmed to oil ministers and private sector executives that there are fourteen oil and gas exploration blocks available. This was a welcome announcement as details of the new agreement terms were promised several months ago but never released.

Photo By: HenleyCaribbean Local Rep. Quindel Williams

With an estimated twenty-five billion barrels of oil produced since drilling commenced in 2015 by EXXON Mobil and partners, Guyana is ranked as one of the fastest growing economies in the world with GDP growth expected to reach twenty-five in 2025. Vice President Jagdeo stressed the government’s desire to have groups of investors showing interest so as to achieve a hive of exploration activity which would be good for the economy.

In terms of expansion, VP Jagdeo told the gathering that the government is in talks with Brazil, India and Qatar with a view to allocating additional blocks, this supports President Irfaan Ali’s announcement while in India recently about discussions with the UAE and UK to alert them to these opportunities.

Liam Mallon, President, ExxonMobil Upstream Oil and Gas Company in his presentation to the delegates and other participants shared his company and partners’ Hess Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) capacity to increase production in Guyana to four hundred thousand barrels of oil a day by stepping up operations on its two Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels the Liza Destiny and Liza Unity.

Photo By: HenleyCaribbean Local Rep. Quindel Williams

Mr Mallon assured the gathering that their projections to have production up to one point two million barrels a day by 2027 are looking good as their vessels Liza Destiny and Liza Unity are presently producing in excess of their planned three hundred and forty thousand barrels a day to three hundred and eighty barrels a day. He is convinced that a third FPSO, the Prosperity due to arrive from Singapore in the coming months will help the consortium to meet the one point two million barrels a day target.

Present at the conference on Tuesday at the time of Liam Mallon’s announcements were oil and gas representatives from the United States, Qatar, India and the UAE who also heard President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo outline their objectives for the upcoming April offshore blocks auction. Before closing President Mallon muted to the audience that his company is very confident in the opportunities that exist in Guyana pointing out that in spite of the many oil finds they are still in ‘the early exploration phase.’

Wednesday 15th February 2023 – A Focus on Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS)

The Guyana government’s definition of LCDS is, ‘a framework intended to map the path of a new growth trajectory in a non-polluting way.’ Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo as the first speaker of the day set the stage by giving a brief historic account of the LCDS program by reflecting on the manner of its conception in 2007 which was to use Guyana’s forest as an abatement solution to Climate Change and as a means to outcompete alternative use of the forest to ultimately achieve net zero in 2030. He said there was a need to allow citizens to continue to use the forest to sustain themselves while at the same time preserving the forest – a sort of balanced approach. That deforestation and land degradation contribute sixty percent of greenhouse gasses making it imperative that the forest be used in a responsible sustainable way if Guyana is to achieve net zero by 2030.

Photo courtesy Gov. of Guyana

In order to extract substantive value from the forest the government considered an idea to examine the value of alternate use of the forest by calculating the revenue from cutting ninety percent of the forest down and preserve ten percent. They wondered what the value earned from the global community would be. In order to test this model, they contracted a foreign company to conduct a survey to prove the concept of outcompeting the alternative use of the forest by changing the land use to mining, agriculture and so on. The company reported Guyana could earn an annuity of six hundred million united states dollars a year. This prompted the Guyana government to establish a three phased approach to monetising the forest. First to enter into a bilateral partnership with Norway in 2009 who committed two hundred and fifty million united states dollars, the world’s largest per capita forest deal with two hundred and twenty million united states dollars paid to date. Second to integrate into voluntary global markets and third phase, to sign-up to the compliance market and UN framework.

Vice President Jagdeo asserted that Guyana’s forest carbon is of the highest quality in the world, seventy percent of which was sold to the Hess Corporation for seven hundred million united states dollars. He said there are a number of companies interested in buying carbon credits from Guyana, an opportunity conceivably worth two billion united states dollars but the government is being cautious.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo making a point. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

On the utilisation of the revenues from the sale of carbon credits VP Jagdeo said the funds will be used on the expanded LCDS which includes biodiversity, integrated water management, adaptation, and the marine economy. He confirmed that fifteen percent of the proceeds from the sale of carbon credits will go directly to indigenous communities. The VP stated that after the conference he was heading to a meeting of the heads of two hundred and forty indigenous villages to disburse twenty-two million united states dollars among them, proceeds from the sale of carbon credits in 2022.

In closing Vice President Jagdeo mentioned that even with ten FPSOs Guyana would remain a carbon sink as the country sequesters one hundred and fifty-four million tons on carbon dioxide and the country is making its contribution to the fight against climate change but at the same time monetising these resources for the development of Guyana.

Hon. Vickram Bharrat, Minister of Natural Resources making a point. Photo courtesy CaribDirect

Hon. Vickram Bharrat, Minister of Natural Resources spoke on: Guyana sustainable approach to the energy sector and development.

Minister Bharrat began by proclaiming how blessed Guyana and its people are. He stressed the government’s intention to ensure ALL Guyanese benefit from the development plans being undertaken. He remarked that Guyanese can now feel proud to show-off their Guyana passport rather than hide it in shame as was the case in the past.

He pointed out that the table has turned, and Guyana is now in a position to offer endless opportunities for investment not only to locals but to foreigners far and wide. He said, in spite of the may nay-sayers and critics of the government suggesting the oil should be left in the ground, they are committed to extract it in a sustainable way for the development of the nation.

To this end the minister informed the gathering that the government has an open-door policy to investment and that local content legislation is in no way a hindrance to investment coming into Guyana. He said the legislation provides for over forty basic services the government is convinced can be secured locally and that the search for opportunities should not be confined to the oil and gas sector but across non-oil sectors that are being developed from revenues from the oil and gas industry.

Minister Bharrat remarked that what makes his government most proud apart from being regarded as the world’s fastest growing economy in 2022, it is the government’s ability to achieve eleven-point five percent non-oil economy growth rate in 2022 which was dubbed the second highest non-oil growth rate in the world.

He said eighty six percent of Guyana is covered in forest and the country has the lowest deforestation rate in the world at a level of zero-point zero five percent. The government’s aim is to keep the forestry sector viable while at the same time cutting less trees. This the minister says is accomplished through value added processes.

D Fitz-Roberts

D Fitz-Roberts

D Fitz-Roberts is a multi-talented writer on socio-economic issues having worked in journalism across the Caribbean (Grenada, Guyana and BVI) in the 90s. He has worked in London with Black Britain Online, New Nation Newspaper and Caribbean Times. An academic with a passion for research on distributed ledger technologies in emerging economies he is keen to see the Caribbean embrace bitcoin and blockchain technologies to keep pace with the west. He writes periodically for mainstream publications and is the founder of CaribDirect.com. He is also the author of Caribbean children’s book LifeSucks! available on Amazon.


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