Tokyo’s Master Plan geared towards future energy needs – Minister Trotman

The just announced Tokyo ‘Master Plan’ for our oil and gas is the result of an offer from Japan last year and is geared towards Guyana’s future energy needs, says Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.

“This master plan is not a strategic plan for the resources, but rather a plan on various downstream applications for the oil and gas, and how and when to prepare us for hydro and solar,” Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News yesterday.

On Saturday,  government  announced that it has received an ‘Oil and Gas Master Plan’ for Guyana, which was developed and submitted by Mitsubishi Corporation and Chiyoda Corporation in collaboration with the Government of Japan.

The Plan was presented to President David Granger at State House on Friday. Also present at the meeting were Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, who is also performing the duties of Prime Minister, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, and the delegation from Japan, headed by Takeo Suzuki, acting Head of the Strategic Business Planning Section, Chiyoda Corporation. Some of its key objectives of the plan are the development of Guyana’s domestic oil industry, the creation of a balance in the domestic usage and exportation of products from indigenous oil and gas, the harmonisation of the industry in keeping with Guyana’s ‘green’ development agenda and the quantifying of the economic feasibility of the plans.

Trotman has multiple times in the past said that his and other  ministries were simultaneously  working on several fronts to realize government’s developmental plans for the country which  includes, but is not limited to, looking to local and diaspora experts , international agencies and other governements for assistance .

Pulling from that information, he informed that it was in this vein Japan’s offer was accepted  and they began analysis and strategic planning from what we had provided and government’s plans and objectives for where it wanted to see the nation in the future, as it pertains to the energy sector.

The Natural Resources Minister informed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated the effort with support from Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Ministry of Finance and his ministry.

Government will also continue to receive help from civil society, local experts, IDB, World Bank, IMF, Chatham House, Commonwealth Secretariat, U.S, Mexico and Japan governments among others.

A statement from government pointed out that following the meeting, the Acting Prime Minister had noted that government will carefully review the proposal so that a decision can be made on the way forward.

“This is the final report presented. They have had discussions with Finance, Public Infrastructure and Natural Resources. It remains now for us to conclude our examination of that final report and then to respond to the Government of Japan. We will probably, within the next fortnight respond to them saying that we have looked at the report and now that we are ready to go forward, we would like them to fund the preparation of detailed economic feasibility studies for each of the projects and then we will see what they come up with,” Greenidge  was quoted as saying .

The statement noted that the Government of Japan is funding the technical work, which also includes the creation of a roadmap towards balancing Guyana’s oil and gas future with its “green development agenda.”

But Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram says that the announcement of the plan was evidence of disarray and confusion.

“A coherent and well-structured policy is the first obligation of any state, let alone one that has been independent for more than half a century. It is not something that any government can and should contract out. That is dereliction, not even delegation.  We are told that this is a final report which suggests that there is no intention to share with or engage Guyanese on what appears to be a key component of a vital sector. Troublingly, it seems that the implementation of the Japanese plan (where did this idea originate?) will only go forward if the Japanese are prepared to fund the preparation of the “detailed economic feasibility studies”. That funding is a major consideration in critical elements of a non-renewable resource must cause concerns among the citizens about the Government’s appreciation of the scale of the challenge and the responsibility it bears,” he said.

“Even if the Government were to say that the Japanese plan is for a segment only, surely such a segment has to align with some broad framework for the sector on which no work appears to have begun. In this regard, Dr. Thomas Singh’s letter (Government should formulate a National Depletion Policy SN March 4, 2018) calling for a petroleum depletion policy not driven by the oil companies, but by the Government suggests that the citizenry is much better informed that the Administration. In fact, a depletion policy is one side of the Sovereign Wealth Fund coin raising the question whether there ought to be a phased exploitation of the country’s petroleum resources,” he added.

Ram posits that Government needs to “get its act together” and have some kind of rational plan for this important sector which has immense potential but equally potentially grave consequences.

He rained criticism for looking to international and expert help for the new sector saying that government should look within instead of outward for help.

“Perhaps because the Government has done so little to inform itself, it finds itself relying on the IMF, the IDB, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, experts from Africa, and an army of consultants hovering like vultures to share in the oil pie. he said.

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