Inspired by the May 20, 2015 announcement by ExxonMobil that it had made the largest discovery of petroleum resources for that year off the coast of Guyana, this column with the title Road to First Oil began, coincidentally, on May 26, 2017 and was expected to run for approximately twenty-five weeks. In fact, today’s column is the 50th in the series and there seems to be no reason why the Daily Editor would not wish to continue it indefinitely, albeit with a change in the contributor at some future date.
If for no other reason, the media and civil society need to guard against the seemingly single-minded pursuit of an oil economy to the exclusion of what President Granger has dubbed the six curses of Guyana – sugar, rice, bauxite, gold, diamonds, and timber – the essence of the Dutch Disease. In fact, there is little evidence of any conscious effort by the Government in the past three years to prevent the Dutch Disease from afflicting the country.
The purpose of today’s column is to assess the progress and preparation Guyana has made to being a petro-state following the first announcement made more than three years ago. The declared reserves at that stage of approximately eight hundred thousand barrels of oil has now jumped to at least four times that number. This is huge and puts Guyana among the world’s top oil producing countries measured by reserves per capita of population. But when it comes to petroleum, to use the language of Portia in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Guyana seems to be twice blessed – as volume increased so has the price for crude oil which has increased by approximately 40% in the last three years…..