After eight years of being criticized by the Obama administration, the oil and gas industry enjoyed a remarkable renaissance in Washington upon the appointment of a true-bred oilman as the new Secretary of State in the person of Mr Rex Tillerson. However, on March 13, President Trump relieved Mr Tillerson of his command of the State Department. This action sent ripples through Washington DC, even though it was expected. He was seen as a very competent professional who had the potential to get big things done. Now What?
What we saw this week is the confirmation of the fact that the US Cabinet serves the President. Constitutionally, he is entrusted with the power to fire and nominate whomever he wants to serve his agenda. Some may want Trump to be impeached but that is a fool’s agenda because he will be there until 2020.
In Foggy Bottom, the oil and gas industry had a personal friend in Mr Tillerson. The scale is expected to tilt against the oil and gas industry because Mr Mike Pompeo has a different agenda ‒ Trump’s agenda (the Middle East, Asia and Europe).
This development means a lot for Guyana because Mr Pompeo will be focused on the agenda of his boss. Between Mr Pompeo and Mr Jim Matthias (Defence), they will take the international fight to the Iranians, the North Koreans and anyone else who does not understand that the United States has 11 of the world’s 20 aircraft carriers with 2 more under construction. The closest rival is China with 2. These Trumpites understand the full meaning of this reality and diplomacy is not their forte.
Although Guyana has the potential to produce 500,000 bpd from 2021, most of which will be processed in the USA, this is less than 5% of America’s national oil imports. Thus Guyana is not really a strategic priority for the USA on the oil front or for that matter any front.
It was an open secret that Mr Tillerson was hostile to Venezuela after that country nationalized their assets. With Mr Pompeo coming to the role, all that strategy is out the window.
Can the PPP focus the Pompeo administration by taking the oil question out of the equation by respecting the fact that Team Granger messed up and promise to respect all contracts signed by the Granger administration? If they can promise the Americans that, I am convinced that just as Hoyte was instructed, Granger will be told firmly that he has to deliver free and fair elections and elections free from fear.
It would be especially important to reflect on the fact that a former CIA man, George H Bush was the one who pushed Guyana to democracy in 1988. Guyana again has another CIA man who has the power to deliver the knockout punch to anyone who might be hell bent on stealing elections in Guyana. Can the opposition in Guyana again leverage a friend in Washington DC?