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Regional energy strategy in the works

Regional energy strategy in the works
President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali. (GP)

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PARAMARIBO, Suriname – A regional approach to energy security will be taken to fast-track the development of the Caribbean, with Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados expected to play key roles in the formulation of the strategy.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali made the disclosure Monday as he addressed the second Suriname Energy, Oil and Gas Summit & Exhibition (SEOGS) here.

President Ali said like developed countries, the Caribbean will use its natural resources for pressing development issues and needs.

The Guyanese leader said he had spoken with Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young, as well as host President Chandrikapersad Santokhi on the matter.

“And we are proposing to move rapidly on a regional energy strategy to look at all the potential areas for investment, to bring investors together, to bring the markets together, and to see how as quickly and transparently as possible, we can unlock those opportunities,” he said.

“So, by the end of the next quarter, investors can have a fair and clear understanding of what the energy strategy and energy needs of this region will be, where are the future opportunities and what are we trying to unlock, so that you could have a clear direction as to where we are going.”

President Ali insisted that in the midst of the world crisis, Caribbean nations must stick together, as he made specific reference to oil and gas producing nations like Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Barbados which has natural gas potential.

“We have to come together to advance a solution not only for the region, but one that incorporates northern Brazil especially….We have to remove bureaucratic delays and advance this project with dynamism and aggressiveness, and also, we have to work on unlocking our natural gas potential because that can contribute to rebalancing the supply side of the region, and right here in Suriname in a few weeks, we are hoping that a full strategy can be presented on energy,” he explained.

Slow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, supply chain disruption, rise in inflation, high fertilizer costs, and the economic repercussions of the war in Ukraine are some of the challenges facing the region.

President Ali said if the region cannot find the resources to invest in those areas, it will continue to lag behind.

“We have to deliver to the people of our country and this region, better education, better healthcare, better infrastructure, create the conditions in which our diaspora will feel comfortable coming back to their homeland. We have to give the future generation a better shot at life. And that is a big responsibility for us too.

“That is why oil and gas cannot be looked at in a one-dimensional way. We have to put together a development strategy that shows how the rest of the economy will be built out from the revenues that come from oil and gas,” he added.

The Suriname Energy, Oil & Gas Summit & Exhibition will run for three days under the theme ‘Suriname – Open for Business’. (CMC)