Panel being set up to advise gov’t on oil, gas sector

-in event of discovery

A high level panel is being put together to advise government on all of the steps and requirements necessary to effectively manage the oil and gas sector in the eventuality of a discovery, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud has announced.

He made the disclosure while delivering opening remarks at the US Embassy’s Energy Governance and Capacity Building workshop, held yesterday at the Cara Lodge. The workshop drew representatives from the US Department of Interior and other US agencies as well as officials from the Government of Guyana, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and other local agencies.

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud addressing the US Embassy’s Energy Governance and Capacity Building workshop yesterday.

Two rigs, the Ocean Saratoga and the Atwood Beacon, are offshore Guyana exploring for oil. Repsol and CGX are the two companies involved in the drilling.

“We are in the process of constituting a panel of experts to advise the government, both looking at persons [within Guyana] and abroad. Having the help and scope of our international partners and our friends in the US Government will certainly take us a far way,” Persaud said.

He thanked the US Embassy in Georgetown and the US Government for their support and stated that this is not the only initiative in which the US is partnering with Guyana. “We have had some similar exercises over the past six months or so and leading to this initiative,” he said.

“As many of you are aware, the timing of such an initiative of support could not be more appropriate. As we speak, we have two rigs offshore engaging in drilling and those activities are going according to plan,” Persaud added.

“One of the rigs had to stop because of bad weather, but in the main those operations are going according to plan. And while we are not in a position to say that we are sure about a discovery, based on all of the geological simulations and the work that we have done, I am quite sure that there is a certain level of expectation,” he said.

According to Persaud, should there be a positive result from the oil and gas exploration, it will be a new sector for Guyana. “And we will have to build and develop the capabilities and capacities to deal with the issues to ensure effective governance,” he said.

“We have started discussions with the US Government but already we have started discussions with other partners in enhancing our capacities and capabilities in looking at how it is the institutions that we have are developed and resourced so that they could effectively manage this impending new area,” he added.

Persaud also disclosed that the government has a “legislative framework” currently under review. “Just about three weeks ago, we had a team from the Commonwealth and they have started work in reviewing our legislation and what we need to do in terms of preparing for oil and gas discovery and its production. We are aware that we ought not to wait until we [make a discovery] before we get our act together. It is about getting our act together very early so that we can manage and account for the sector,” he said.

He added that while Guyana would have been dealing with some of the concepts that the workshop would be addressing, the country has to be looking at the best models for the management of the sector.

Representing the US Embassy at the workshop in Georgetown was Charge d’affaires Tom Pierce. Pierce explained that the US Government’s Department of Interior is the agency responsible for the Energy Governance and Capacity Building Initiative (ECGI), which aims to provide support to countries that could have an oil and gas industry developed.

According to Pierce, the initiative assists countries with gas sector revenue management, regulation of upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors, issues that impact on revenue, data collection and management and resource assessment capabilities, and the effective management of trans-boundary resources for utilization.

“EGCI also provides the benefit of building both high level working contacts and provide unbiased sound advice and guidance as well as lasting relationships that can further long term institutional stability and sound sector development in governance,” he said.

“It is an exciting time in Guyana, whether it is the potential for the development of petroleum or the resources in mining… or the opportunities in agriculture and tourism and other sectors. We have a strong partnership in these and other areas in Guyana and we look forward to the success that can come from effectively managing the resources,” Pierce added.