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EDITORIAL: Oh, how the tables have turned


BARBADOS NATION

EDITORIAL: Oh, how the tables have turned

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AFTER YEARS OF financial problems, Guyana may be on the verge of a turnaround in economic fortunes, thanks to the unearthing of huge deposits of oil. Both Exxon Mobil and Hess have been pushing ahead with investing heavily offshore Guyana since exploration wells indicated that the country may have one of the richest deposits of oil and natural gas to be discovered in decades.

While the oil may not start flowing before 2020 there’s great anticipation not only in Georgetown but financial markets worldwide on what these new reserves may mean geopolitically. Guyana is in a position to become a critical part of the South America oil-producing network and its importance to the superpower neighbour to the north will be of greater strategic importance.

The world’s oil producing map, which for more than five decades has been centred on the Middle East, is being drastically shifted. It now runs from Alberta, Canada, through North Dakota and Texas to the huge deposits being discovered near Brazil and Guyana. The economic map may also be redrawn.

The good news for our CARICOM partner on the South American mainland is that despite the increasing international thrust towards green economies and the push in developing renewable energy, oil demand is still very high. It stands at about 94.1 million barrels per day worldwide – and growing.

Admittedly, an oil economy does not always mean good fortune for the people.  Venezuela and Nigeria are classic examples of countries going from an energy boom to bust.

This is why Guyana should not bank on its bright prospects to be the economic salvation it needs. What the expected oil boom should mean, initially, is an improvement in its gross domestic product and ranking amongst countries listed in the World Bank’s annual survey.

One of the challenges will be in getting the expertise and manpower at all levels to deal with this new industry and the offshoots which are sure to create many new job opportunities. All the talent cannot come from within Guyana.

For some Barbadians with specialised skills, Guyana may be the place for them to develop their careers. This will be particularly true for those with expertise in developing the technical and legislative framework to deal with the oil sector and regulatory agencies, and in financial management.

Guyana will of necessity have to sign on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to ensure a level of openness and accountability as it relates to the revenues expected to flow from the oil bonanza.

Hopefully, Barbadians seeking to sell their expertise in Guyana will not receive a backlash because of the hostility we dished out to many Guyanese when they sought to take refuge here. It is, after all, simply about the free movement of people.

 

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