Interviews and photos by David Papannah and Shamar Meusa
This week, we asked the man and woman in the street if they have been following the developments in the oil industry and how they think they will benefit in 2020 when oil begins to flow.
Their responses are as follows:
Kenita Rogers– ‘Yes I have been following the developments of the oil industry to the best of my ability. From the flowing oil, I think one of the benefits to me as a person would be added opportunities to learn about the oil and gas operations. In addition, learning about technology and how it could be used in the new industry and other sectors that need technology for efficiency. Bear in mind that these learning opportunities are already happening but with the flowing oil I think what is being talked about would be put into practice’.
Joel Johnson- ‘I believe I can benefit from it come 2020 because by then I would still be studying and hopefully on a scholarship and as the oil flows in, many things can be subsidized with it that will reduce the country’s imports, thus lowering the amount of money the government spends on importing things…This money now can be used to help further develop our educational institutions and provide employment opportunities and those children who are not really fortunate to afford a proper tertiary education.’
Dexter Smartt– ‘I certainly have been following the development of the oil industry in Guyana. In fact, I recently did some research on it. However, I do not foresee direct benefits for myself in 2020 or up to two to five years after that. I will not offer my thoughts on us as a State benefitting from first oil. What I will say is that it will be almost completely offshore and my career is not one that is in line with the skills required there. I do, however, foresee indirect benefits such as greater cash flow in the country due to a better economy that’s significantly powered by oil funds, a better public service due to better salaries and training, improved infrastructure, higher living standards and hopefully a stronger voice in the international arena. These idealistic predictions might be seen as wishful thinking but this is what I foresee, providing that the industry is managed well and everything is on schedule. It’s essential to note that predictions at this point will not be accurate as it’s a first for Guyana but this is what I idealistically predict as benefits to me after we extract first oil in 2020.’
Phillipe Walker- `I remember the stories I heard from everyone growing up about Guyana having undiscovered oil. It seemed like just folklore, then it happened. When I heard the news that our country will be the next oil giant I was ecstatic and filled with much hope. Now that the sector is imminent, I am even more hopeful. As a youth I hope that it brings significant opportunity for better employment in a sector that will allow you to lead the good life and a comfortable retirement. I hope that the industry will transform our economy to the extent that all other sectors can benefit and working class citizens can get significantly better salaries. I hope that with the profits earned, our country will develop much needed infrastructure and technology, especially in terms of our record keeping, so that Guyana can finally be part of the modern world. I hope that with the transformations made our country can develop to the extent that employment will no longer be streamlined and young persons would be able to choose any possible degree and find employment. And that they would be fairly compensated for their degree. I hope that we will not be disconnected from the sector and would be able to be part and parcel of not only its development but also its great success. So all in all, I hope, not in naivety, that our entire society can benefit from the sector. For if everyone benefits we will have a prosperous and happy Guyana where any young person with a dream knows that they can fulfill that dream right here in the land that gave them birth, rather than seek pastures elsewhere’.
Renuka Tewari- ‘Yes, I have tried to keep abreast with the happenings and developments as it unfolds in the sector. This impact, though indirect, is still one to look forward to when oil begins to flow in 2020. I’m the owner of a craft business so for me, with this development in the country we would see more tourists and tourism being boosted. This will definitely be good for my business so I’m quite hopeful of all the direct and indirect benefits this sector would have on businesses.’
Nickela Moses- ‘As a result of being the world’s most important source of energy and its contribution to the manufacturing of quite a number of life’s necessities, oil is seen as vital and is bought at a significant price around the world which will boost our country’s economy.
This also attracts foreign exchange. Foreign exchange rates influence capital flow, or investment funds and if our currency value escalates, which is only inevitable due to oil production, it will attract more foreign investors.
In addition, job opportunities will be created which will cause our unemployment rates to decline, and the youths venturing out into environmental studies, geology and other related studies to the industry will have jobs and will not migrate which means less brain drain for Guyana. Some of the benefits are already being reaped with companies providing training and employment but I think we will be able to see the full benefits when oil starts flowing in 2020. I am not abreast with the developments in the sector but I know this is happening.’
Keyron Welcome – ‘I haven’t been paying much attention to the sector but I am aware of some of the developments happening in the sector such as the discovery being 4 billion barrels I also heard that a Department of Energy is being set up to deal with the oil and gas sector and I think it is a right step. We need people to overlook and manage our resources. When oil begins to flow what I would like to see is they use the money to build our infrastructures, tackle social issues and divert some money to the homeless. When oil beings to flow we will get revenue to handle these situations.’
Ingrid Peters-‘It will be a good thing when oil begins to flow because Guyana needs the revenue to develop its economy. The investment in terms of employment would be good for us and our youths. More and more companies are setting up operations and they need people to work so getting the oil would be a good thing for Guyanese. We need to manage our resources well though, people out there are looking at us and we can’t allow them to think we are not able to manage this resource. We cannot afford to go down the wrong path. It is easy to say how we are going to do it and when the time reach we cannot execute. I expect our leaders to put aside some money for the future in case we end up like Trinidad and Tobago, that was once ahead but is now having challenges. In terms of developments in the sector I try my best to keep up to date with what is happening. Only the major developments you hear they make noise about, but we should hear about all the developments that are taking place.’
Eon Blue – ‘I think given the developments with the amount of oil found we should renegotiate the contracts because I don’t too like the contract that was signed before. I am aware of some developments and try to stay up to date. The latest development I am aware about is Guyana being able to produce 4 billion barrels of oil. When the oil starts to flow I think the development should be non-stop. We should see what our money is going to. The amount of money collected from the oil companies should allow me and every Guyanese to live a decent life. Our country is small in population and the money would be significant. I expect to see our health sector receiving great improvements, our roads in our villages repaired and streets lights all over. That is how I expect to benefit. They should use the first set of money to provide these things to our citizens. We should work to move to first world status because we are far behind from many countries. But I am skeptical about how the money would be spent and managed and as citizens we need to watch those who are representing us.’
Attyyah Amin –‘I have not been following the oil industry. I know Guyana has oil and we have signed a contract with a foreign company. I have never actually sat down and taken the time to read about our oil industry but I think now would be a good time to do so.
I have been hearing everyone talking about the oil though, so I guess it will improve our lives in some way. I think our country has a lot of resources and we should not lose sight of what we have because we have found something new. But everyone is saying that Guyana will be better and richer because of the oil, so I am waiting to see what that means exactly for me as a young working person.’