Yesterday, the Department of Energy (DoE) held its first press conference since its establishment on August 1, this year. There, head of the department, Dr. Mark Bynoe gave a detailed breakdown of both the mandate of the department as well as the progress made thus far.
Perhaps, one of the more notable achievements to date is the fact that the department is almost finished designing a roadmap to guide the development of the local oil and gas sector.
Dr. Bynoe told the media that the department has been established to manage the hydrocarbon resources, “while simultaneously seeking to increase the net benefit accruing to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. His Excellency President (David) Granger has also indicated his desire for this Department to ultimately morph into a Ministry, being responsible for all forms of energy within the Republic.”
Dr. Bynoe recalled that before the establishment of the Department, there was the Petroleum Directorate within the Ministry of Natural Resources that was staffed by four individuals (two petroleum engineers, one legal officer and one paralegal).
He said that similarly, the Petroleum Unit within the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission was staffed with three technical officers.
Dr. Bynoe said that since the establishment of the Department, the officers from the Natural Resources Ministry have been absorbed within the entity, augmented, by the recruitment of a Director, an Energy Advisor, two accountants, a procurement specialist, one office manager, one confidential secretary/administrative assistant and two drivers.
Dr. Bynoe indicated that the structure of the Department will evolve in a fit for purpose manner, with “a heavy focus on taking a minimalist approach to resource management in collaboration with mandated agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Audit Office of Guyana, and the Guyana Revenue Authority.”
Further, Dr. Bynoe said that the vision is for the department to become a Ministry with semi-autonomous regulators, such as the Petroleum Commission, reporting to it. However, “we are cognizant of the need to build strong institutions, such that they are designed for success.
It is therefore essential that any discussion around best practices be contextualised.”
This being the case, Dr. Bynoe said that the department has taken a pragmatic approach in responding to immediate issues while addressing the entity’s medium and longer term strategy.
He said that this approach emphasizes the need to recruit short-term external consultants, with local capacity embedded with these external consultants aimed at building local expertise to take on a greater management role within the sector going forward.
In accordance with its mandate, Dr. Bynoe said that the Department continues to seek ways to streamline operations occurring within the sector and which are essential for private sector participation and confidence building.
“This streamlining continues to focus on five broad principles: efficiency, transparency, predictability, balance, and evidence-based decision-making as I have outlined at other fora.
Early DoE successes better contextualize what the Department has been doing. These initiatives are being financed mainly from the multilateral donor partners,” said Dr. Bynoe.
Dr. Bynoe then indicated that the department has drafted a roadmap outlining Guyana’s management framework for the hydrocarbon sector. This framework, he said, outlines the pillars for the evolution of the Department and government institutions, “while simultaneously allowing for focused donor support. We hope to finalize this document by the ending of November 2018.”
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