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May 29, 2012
Hopes of finding oil still high - Canadian envoy
Samuel Sukhnandan - Guyana Times

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana David Devine says despite the recent results from the drilling of the Eagle One well, which came up empty, the chances of a local oil and gas find are high.

Devine made this statement at the launch of the two-part series “Oil and Gas Guide” developed by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), with the support of the Canadian government. The Canadian diplomat believes that while there may be many challenges ahead, the country would have to be persistent in its work.


A section of the gathering at the launch of the oil and gas guide

He referred to Canada’s experiences of oil exploration on the east coast of the country. According to him, the country had to drill some 42 wells before a discovery was made in what remains one of the richest oil and gas exploration areas in Canada. Devine noted that Guyana has high chances of a successful find based on research.

“Today as we observe the drilling programme that is ongoing in Guyana’s offshore basin, there should be little doubt that Guyana is on the verge of realising an opportunity of immense preparations,” he said.

Devine also underscored the importance of such a sector to Guyana’s economy, but said that the resources gained from oil and gas should be managed properly. He, therefore, urged that the government and the private sector start planning ahead, taking into account the returns of investments it could gain.

“Oil and gas would mean a transformation for Guyana,” Devine said. In pinpointing the benefits, he said, Guyana could witness massive infrastructural and social development, in a matter of years, with Guyanese being the main beneficiaries.

The guide, developed with the help of the Canadian High Commission in Guyana, will help Guyanese and the private sector to exchange ideas and provide a better overview of investments in ACOA and the model the company used in exploring and producing oil in Canada. The North American country, he stated, shares many similarities with Guyana. “The guide is a building block to share similar business views,” he said. The Canadian government, he stated, is ready to provide more support to Guyana in that regard.

Already, two colleges will be partnering with Guyana to develop educational support, as a means of training personnel in the sector. The two colleges include: College of North Atlantic and the Canadian Coast Guard College. The College of North Atlantic is the management petroleum centre of technology in Qatar. The college has graduated some 400 specialists in the oil and gas sector. In closing, Devine urged that the government and the private sector continues to forge partnerships with other companies that have had experience in exploring and producing oil and gas.

Optimistic Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud said he remains very optimistic that there is a high probability that Guyana will find oil. This view is shared by the president and government of Guyana. Persaud believes that this find will happen very soon and said that Guyana would need to prepare for such a finding. According to him, government has been working to ensure that this happens. The state, he said, has developed a legislative framework, which is currently being reviewed with the help of the Commonwealth Secretariat. This is to update new trends, taking necessary precautions. Government is currently restructuring the Guyana and Geology Mines Division Petroleum Division into a Petroleum Advisory board. This board will advise Cabinet and the president on decisions to be taken on this issue.

“We don’t want to have the oil and gas sector served completely by foreign companies and interest… yes we need the input and the synergies, but not only the private sector, but the people of Guyana must play a very important part,” Persaud stressed. According to him, Guyana will be partnering not only with Canada, but the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) to develop curriculum and have personnel trained in the new and emerging sector. Meanwhile, Private Sector Commission (PSC) President Ramesh Dookhoo said Guyana is on the road map of development in the oil and gas sector. He said this sector still remains a dream to many Guyanese, but seems to be coming nearer to fruition, given that chances are high Guyana will be producing oil and gas very soon.

Dookhoo said the private sector and government must lay a solid foundation as a means of avoiding mistakes made by other oil-producing nations.

Dookhoo said he is happy with the announcement made by President Ramotar not to abandon traditional sectors. “With careful planning, we can achieve a balanced economy with our oil production sector functioning in synergistic harmony,” Dookhoo said. He urged government to take into consideration the requirements needed, the most important being a skilled and productive labour force. Statistics show Guyana has an aging population but the labour force is growing slow. “This indicates a tightening labour market which is compounded by the fact that we have a shortage of skilled labour,” Dookhoo stressed.

The need for training will also be important. He said that the University of Guyana will have to expand its curriculum to ensure that it turns out graduates who will serve the sector.

The technical and vocational centres would also have to step up to the plate. Dookhoo said, “The fact remains that we have no current pool of skills that can service the oil and gas sector and this is a lack which we must address at the earliest opportunity.

“While there will be firms actually involved in production of the oil and gas sector, the greatest opportunity for local firms will be oil and gas supply sector. These spin-off industries have the potential to function as effective multipliers of the funds generated in the sectors.”

CGX Director John Lewis, who spoke on behalf of the newly-appointed CGX Energy Inc Chairman Dr Suresh Narine, said the company is looking to create opportunities for the local businesses and people of Guyana.

CGX, he said, believes that there are commercial quantities of oil and gas in Guyana and it is just a matter of striking oil. “The activity of exploration itself provides, here and now, immense opportunities for local businesses – highly qualified personnel and training programmes and logistical and supply services,” he said. Drilling is currently ongoing at the Jaguar well, in which CGX has a 25 per cent share. Since 1997-2010, CGX has incurred a 65 per cent stake in oil and gas exploration activities in Guyanese territory, which continues to rise.

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