Selling power to Brazil is the way to go

Dear Editor,

In 2007 after decades of begging this government to help them develop their landlocked states of Amazonas and Roraima, a delegation of Brazilians came to Guyana to discuss the deep water harbour, the highway from Brazil and hydropower. They still want to discuss it with us today, including their offer to build a 1500-megawatt hydropower dam here at a place in our Mazaruni River called Turtruba.

Now let’s suppose that suddenly out of the blue we find an enlightened man in this country to make these decisions, and he agreed to do this deal in co-operation with Brazil, he would first look around internationally for an advisor on the matter before he began negotiations with the Brazilians, not after making numerous and costly mistakes, as we are doing with our oil agreements. I make this observation after seeing this item in Kaieteur News on the 24th May `Cabinet has determined that an international firm will be retained to guide and advise the process going forward’. That’s called shutting the stable door after all the horses have escaped!      

Of the 1500 megawatts we generate, we will sell 1200 to Brazil and keep 300 for our grid, [I could be wrong but that is what I understood Brazil wants] and it’s only the start since they need much, much more in time as they open the 800,000 square miles of Amazonas and Roraima, and we can charge the Brazilians US$100 a megawatt [10 cents US /Kilowatt] delivered to the border between Guyana and Brazil. Canada sells massive amounts of power to the US, how much? Well of the three biggest Hydro dams in North America, two are in Canada, selling 68.4 million megawatts of electricity to the US and earning 3.1 billion Canadian dollars in 2015.   

What benefits would accrue to us from a deal like this?

1.            Manaus will have enough clean power from Guyana at a good rate and will no longer have to bring all fuel 900 miles up the Amazon River for their electrical generation.

2.            Guyana will be paid 10 cents per kilowatt for 1200 megawatts per hour, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, this will be more in time than the oil revenue unless we negotiate another nonsensical deal like the oil one. But what can we get from this 1200 megawatts of power? Well 1200 megawatts is 1,200 000 kilowatts if we sell it to Brazil at $100 per megawatt, [10 cents a kilowatt] we will earn US$120,000 per day or 43 million US per year, this is guaranteed money and we will continue to earn in the long run more money than the oil, and will be ours forever not finite like the oil. According to Sam Ramsahoye the Mazaruni River has the potential to generate 4500 megawatts of power, we can sell all of it to Brazil in time for the development of their states of Roraima and Amazonas. What is the best part of this deal? Brazil will build it for us, so we don’t have to find the money for it and this is one negotiation where we have the upper hand since they need it badly.  It’s what Forbes Burnham had in mind with his Upper Mazaruni project.

3.            The 300 megawatts we are giving ourselves will give our business community including Bauxite and GWI, the one thing that hampers them the most and will make them competitive. As a bonus we will have the security of a Brazil partnership in the Essequibo; and Venezuela will just have to eat crow.

For our sugar industry the answer is so simple that I find it astonishing that the people in charge don’t understand it yet, I have never been wrong about the Guyana sugar industry. I am predicting that the rest of it will fail in time and continue to cost us a lot. There is no way that it can be sustainable not with that management team, not with our below sea level heavy clay soils and the high local rainfall of 100 inches per year on the coast.  In Queensland, Australia, a big sugar producer, for example the 1961–1990 average rainfall was 18 inches per annum. Sao Paulo, Brazil where 70% of the Brazilian sugar industry is located, receives around 50 inches per year, Hawaii has 17.5 inches per year, we can’t compete with them since they are fully mechanized and have one rain season per year not two like us. Based on the failure at Enmore and LBI where a considerable area was converted for mechanization [around 80%] and showed us clearly that it cannot be done without a major effect on yield which will speed up its demise, clearly no further mechanization must be attempted here. And informed diversification must start immediately. With this oil find here, and the right people making visionary decisions, things can change for us in a big way, and not keep taking us down the same road to poverty we have been travelling since independence.

Yours faithfully,

Tony Vieira     

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