This week we asked the man/woman in the street what they knew about the offshore oil find and whether they had any questions about it. Their answers follows.
Talicia Benn (Physiothera-pist): `I heard about the oil find from word of mouth. I think they need more public awareness forums because aside from social media, I’m not hearing anything about the oil they found. I heard we’re expected to make billions but I don’t know exactly how much. I think it’s going to be good for the country but I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s going to bring for us. We could improve so much, especially in the area of public health. I want to see more money placed into helping children with disabilities, where I work, we have to improvise daily to get certain things in place for them so they should come and donate, give us some equipment, materials, anything that would benefit the children there and the parents because most cases they don’t have the finances to come to therapy every day or to get what they need such as a splint or a walker or a prosthetic leg, so that would be good if they can help us out in those areas.’
Orden Robertson (Vendor): `It’s good for the future as long as the revenues gained from it is properly accounted for and the benefits go toward the future development of this country. I hope that the government properly accounts to its people for the revenue and the corruption that Guyana is known for would be minimized; that the people will truly be the beneficiaries.’
Colleen Jones (Vendor): `I’m not fully aware of what is happening but I’m excited about the find because in a few years’ time the country will get better, things will get better. I’m sure there are many other people like me that don’t know what is going on because they don’t really be at home and they’re busy with their schedule so by the time they get home they don’t have the time to keep on top of these things. So it would be good if they can come out and explain certain things so persons can get a better understanding and know what is going on. One of the things I want to know is how much money Guyana will be receiving out of this agreement, how will the citizens really be benefitting and when will it start to flow?
Andre Romaldo: `I understand that the recent oil find for Guyana is a significant find and they are still discovering more. I am very excited and optimistic about this opportunity Guyana has found. However, I have some concerns and questions which I believe are worthy of consideration. I think that a portion of the funds should go directly to each citizen. However it’s done, all Guyanese should benefit individually. Also, how soon can the wealth get to the people? Another concern is the management of money. It is an exciting prospect for all Guyanese provided that the money gained from our oil is managed effectively, efficiently and morally. Oil finds have crippled countries and even sent others into civil war, very soon after huge oil finds. How soon will we be using this money to invest in other ways for Guyana to make money so we are not too oil dependent? I believe though that even if we become oil dependent we will always do well even if oil prices drop to their lowest because we are so small a country that any amount of money will suffice. What about immigration and border security? How will we control our borders? Many people will want to run here for jobs and wealth and benefits. Security will have to become a major focus for government. Finally I hope that we continue to be cognizant of environmental issues and continue to do our part in protecting and preserving the environment.’
Rovin Persaud (Private sector): `I heard that it was a US company by the name of ExxonMobil, while drilling off the coast of the Stabroek Block that they found some oil, that’s what I heard so far from the news. I’m excited for the country because oil is a very good resource, you can get a lot of things like petroleum and gas and so for different industries. I would probably like to see the money invested in the natural gas area. What I want to know is whether they would be interested in using the expertise of the locals, let’s say persons from the University of Guyana to go further into the field of the petroleum industry.’
Shaquille Henry (Student): `It’s a good thing for the country overall but only if it’s handled properly because initially the deal was 80 to 20% in terms of the country getting 20% and whoever is doing the exploration is getting 80% of the deal and I thought about it and that was very stupid of the government, and then I heard the deal was changed to 50/50. I agree with that and I like that, the only thing I disagree with is that we’re not getting an oil refinery. So what that means is we’re going to send the oil somewhere to get it refined and I think that is very stupid because a country will always try to exploit us if we send oil to them to get it refined and then bring it back, because you can send 50 gallons, but remember they have the technology to check it, so if you send 50 barrels worth of oil then they can always say it evaporated or something, they can say anything. I think that someway, somehow, we should develop an oil refinery here, even if it’s a small one because asking another country to refine it doesn’t make any sense. How do they plan to invest? What do they plan to do with the money they receive, besides infrastructure? Do they plan to put it into education like Trinidad does it? Do they plan to change the system so we don’t have to pay the light bill every three months? What do they plan to do with the revenue, do they plan to put it into human resources or physical things like buildings or new hospitals and schools?’
Lennox Gaspar (Linden Town Councillor): `I don’t think that much is being done in terms of educating the public and in terms of the public knowing what is required and what is going on in terms of oil development in the country. What guarantee do we have that this oil will change our economy? Because we look at our neighbours who have oil and their economies are a wreck, which signifies poor management. What guarantee do we have that those in power will guarantee and ensure proper management so that the people will benefit from this oil. Venezuela has oil, Suriname has oil, Trinidad has oil, these are our neighbours, and their economy does not reflect this, particularly Venezuela. Definitely we will have to shift our focus and persons will now have to prepare themselves to move into the direction, education will be fundamental with regards to the whole oil discovery. Our health and everything will benefit as a spin off. One of the things we need to do is strengthen our skills base, our skill base is very poor and we need to strengthen that, we’ve been losing a lot of persons, and I think we need to set a system where we can be better able to take care of our public servants and to have the job cycle be properly run…’
Khame Sharma (City Councillor): `I am aware of that they have found oil in the country. My concern is how much revenue would be coming into the country from the oil. I hope the negotiations would be more for Guyana than the oil company. I am also concerned about how well the government would be able to manage the resources because we see in other oil countries like Nigeria and Venezuela they are faced with crisis. It would be interesting to see what plans the government put in place to deal with this if it happens in the future. I am not too excited about the find because we hear the government is pushing for a Green state, and we are getting money from Norway through the LCDS programme and that would prepare us for the future.’
Dvane St John (Public Servant): `I am aware of the oil find in Guyana. The question I have is, what would the Guyanese people be inheriting from this oil find? Because from my understanding of it a small percentage of the revenue would be coming to Guyana. I don’t know how true it is. I am glad that we have found oil and would be producing oil. I also think there is a need for a public forum to inform the citizens on the development of the oil find. In the oil refining countries they would go out and inform the public about what is happening and don’t keep them in the dark.’
Stephan Sookram (Student): `I know the oil find in Guyana is significant to the fact that it is has a huge magnitude of oil, it’s like sweet crude something the world has been praying for and it is a large quantity and it is good for Guyana. Some of the money should be channeled into education and sport which go hand in hand as in the developed countries. It should be used for a stronger education system and to help athletes. I would just like to know how the money would be spent and I can hope it is in a transparent and clear manner.’