Guyana’s oil industry is attracting a significant amount of international interest, and according to Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, the country is seeking to partner with reputable foreign companies and wants an arrangement that benefits the country in the short, medium and long term.

Minister Gaskin was speaking at the Baker Institute’s forum on Oil and Gas Development in Guyana at Rice University in Houston, Texas held today.

He was among a panel of speakers including Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Head, Newell Dennison, Schlumberger’s Managing Director of the Caribbean, Sean Herrera, and Senior Director of FTI Consulting, Jamie McInerney, exploring the oil and gas prospects in Guyana.

The event was organised by the university’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. During his keynote address, Minister Gaskin emphasised that:

“Guyana remains open for business, and we welcome all the interest and investments, we want your business but our people have needs, and their needs are our priority, so we want to work with you, and we want you to work with us.” He added, “while we recognise that there is a lot that our country can gain from this sudden exposure to international oil companies, we also recognise that there is a lot that we can lose if we do not manage this sector responsibly.”

Minister Gaskin noted that Guyana is not seeking to become to the new ‘Singapore’ or ‘Norway’, but aims to become the ‘new Guyana’, a country that is relevant to the Guyanese people, one that they want to be a part of; a Guyana in which young Guyanese can see a bright future.

“As an oil producer, Guyana has arrived on the scene quite late… We are also fortunate to be starting at a time when there is a wealth of information available on every aspect on the oil and gas sector and its impact on various economies at different stages of their development.”

The proper management of this sector, the Business Minister said, is important.

“To ensure that all Guyanese are the main beneficiaries of the country’s valuable natural resources which rightfully belong to them. Our government has to manage these expectations and manage this new sector in a way that brings about a win-win partnership between the investors and the people of our country.”

Minister Gaskin noted that this will be achieved with the right partners and good governance on the government’s part.

The Government of Guyana is in the process of finalising its local content policy for the sector, with focuses on three key areas; employment and workforce development; supplier opportunities and business development and the transfer of knowledge and technology.

“We believe that there is mutual interest in these three areas between international oil companies and our government.”

He said it was inconceivable that a foreign company would not source local workers and supplies from local companies once the capacity exists. He further added that it was equally impossible that any company would operate for three decades or more in a foreign country and not leave behind a legacy of which it can be proud.

“Why would any government not want to ensure that its depleting natural wealth is replaced with sustainable human capital and a globally competitive economy?” Minister Gaskin underscored.

As Guyana prepares for first oil, there has been a significant amount of training done over the last three years. Businesses are learning more about procurement in oil and gas, more companies are prioritising the health and safety and other best practices in their operations. Moreover, local companies are partnering with more experienced international companies in the hope of servicing and supplying the oil and gas sector.

The Baker Institute’s forum on Oil and Gas Development in Guyana at Rice University in Houston, Texas was co-sponsored by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Guyanese law firm, Hughes, Fields & Stoby and TOTALTEC Oilfield Services.

By: Synieka Thorne.DPI