Talk about oil in Guyana

The Editor,

Much has been said and written about the discovery of oil in Guyana. Nevertheless, this form of black gold can be a blessing as well as a curse.

The outcome depends on how the government manages this resource. If the authority is corrupt, then fraud can be expected as has happened in Venezuela, Chad and Equatorial Guinea.

I am not an oil expert, economist, academic or politician, but a layman who speaks the language of the masses. Since the discovery of oil in Guyana, there has been much speculation and controversy that it will only benefit the explorer, ExxonMobil Corporation. I don’t want to believe this theory because Guyana has brilliant minds who would not allow this exploitation to happen.

ExxonMobil is the largest big oil companies in the world. Steve Coll’s book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, shows that this oil giant can determine the economic and political fate of any country in which it has an investment.

Exxon is obviously spending a lot of money in investments. However, it must let the government and people of Guyana know how nationals are expected to benefit from its operations. These questions are uppermost in people’s mind before production begins. After all, it is the people’s oil.

Exxon is so optimistic about finding more oil. Exxon scored a big victory with its recent announcement that there is more oil in the Stabroek block — a region north of Guyana’s coastline — than originally anticipated. Exxon and its U.S.-based partner, Hess Corp, are currently drilling in the area. This is welcome news for one of the poorest countries in South America.

These explorations are building hope in the people for economic development and prosperity.

Guyanese want to know how they will benefit from the expected oil boom. Would it make life better for the ordinary man and woman who are living just above and below the poverty line?

His Excellency President David Granger is the only person who can throw light on this doubt, and answer these questions to dispel the fear in some people. Only he can prove many wrong about the curse of oil. His excellency must give the people the assurance that they have nothing to fear or loose, that all contractual agreements are in the interest of the people.

I would like to suggest that the government organises town halls meetings to dialogue with the people. During my visits to Guyana last year and this year, I found many people who seem confused about the prospects of these discoveries.

A friend to all.

Jai Sears

Grenada, Caribbean

More from Around NYC