Oil and Gas: The Prospects for Guyana

Event: Symposium
Host: Moray House Trust
Date: Friday 10th March 2017

Dr Paulette Bynoe, Moderator

On Friday evening Moray House Trust hosted its first symposium about ‘Oil and Gas: The Prospects for Guyana.’ This is a large and complex topic and the Trust anticipates running a series of panel events and discussion forums about it. On this occasion, there were three speakers, Dr Jan Mangal, Stuart Hughes and the British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quinn. Dr Paulette Bynoe, the Dean of the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Guyana, served as moderator.

Dr Jan Mangal

In a presentation entitled, ‘Relationships 101: Guyana meets Liza’, Dr Jan Mangal used the analogy of a marriage to explore some of the risks inherent in the relationship. He spoke about the ’trust deficit’ within Guyana’s politics and how oil revenue can be transformative but can also exacerbate inherent flaws within the host economy.

Stuart Hughes, civil engineer

Stuart Hughes, a civil engineer with extensive experience in transportation, proposed ‘A new paradigm for infrastructure’ in Guyana. He pointed out that the infrastructure projects envisaged once oil funds are available will be far most costly and more ambitious in scale than any undertaken so far. Mr Hughes stressed that infrastructure projects of this order take time to plan and to execute. In order to protect the work from the vagaries of election cycles, he suggested that an Infrastructure Commission be set up to assess, monitor and oversee these projects as has been done in the United Kingdom, for example.

HE British High Commissioner Greg Quinn

High Commissioner Quinn spoke in clear and unambiguous terms about the need for transparency and inclusivity in all stages of the process. He also touched on the need to manage expectations, pointing out that extraction costs can spiral and that revenue is tied to the market value of oil at the time of extraction.

There were many questions and comments from the floor. One member of the audience raised concerns about protection for the biodiversity at Shell Beach, another queried what provision was being made for the indigenous communities in the area and a representative of Transparency International enquired whether the terms of the contract would be available for public scrutiny and, if not, why.

Video Clips:

1: Oil and Gas: Prospects for Guyana: Highlights
You Tube Clip: https://youtu.be/WRwLwDytIiw

2: A point of comparison
These are clips from Stuart Hughes’ presentation, ‘A New Paradigm for Infrastructure’, in which he uses Trinidad & Tobago as a reference point for Guyana.
You Tube Clip: https://youtu.be/LKHvANPfQro

3: Economic Infrastructure
Stuart talks about the economic infrastructure required and raises issues such as transparency and capacity.
You Tube Clip: https://youtu.be/JSSyUxPosKM

4: A National Infrastructure Plan
Guyanese engineer Stuart Hughes makes a compelling case for a long term infrastructure plan born of national consultation and consensus and an independent Infrastructure Commission (answerable to Parliament) to implement it.
You Tube Clip: https://youtu.be/Rfw9XM4L8h0

5: Policy Framework and Transparency
HE British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn spoke about the importance of “implementation, implementation, implementation” of policies and laws set up to govern the nascent oil and gas sector in Guyana and all revenues flowing from it.
You Tube Clip: https://youtu.be/XvPc5tEFmY0