The recent oil spill on the northern coast of Brazil, which impacted several beaches is a very stark reminder of the fragility of our developing oil industry. Very risky business indeed just off the coast of Guyana.
Imagine if this was to happen due to a deep water oil well leak or several leaks. The environmental cost and monetary impact would be huge and could severely negatively impact any potential profit to be obtained from the oil industry.
This should be very evident especially given our current royalty and profit sharing agreements which most observers have found unfavourable to our Nation.
Does the Nation really have the resources needed to handle such an event? I would argue that our Nation is far from prepared and if we were to ask our suppliers such as Exxon for help to rectify the environmental impact of such a spill, the cost would be astronomical.
This reaffirms that we would be better off with the oil left in the ground and it would be prudent for Our Great Nation’s leadership to pursue compensation for such a noble, brave and conscientious gesture. Leaving the oil in the ground while obtaining close to the equivalent amount of the total compensation recently estimated if we were to sell our oil assets on the open market is an achievable task.
We must also keep in mind our location on the equator and the extensive use of natural gas resources associated with this oil industry venture.
The resulting impact on the climate is substantial over the life of the extraction process. The recent unfortunate and tragic events in the Bahamas is another stark reminder that we exist in an area where the vulnerability of our sister States and our very own Nation is extremely high and we may face future peril unless we take the high road and make the tough decisions today to do what is in both ours and our neighbours’ best interest over the long term.
As unpopular as it may seem today, given the one sided deal on profits, additional hidden costs on decommissioning the wells, hidden costs on rectifying an oil spill or spills and the detrimental environmental impact on our low lying Nation which will continue to have its most productive and populated area under sea level, it is extremely clear that we cannot afford to make such a risky investment over the long term which may result in losing more than we had as a Nation to begin with. Instead of adding to our own destruction from rising global temperatures which is resulting in rising sea levels, we should focus our efforts on a long term solution that enables us to meet our energy needs over the long term via resource asset valuation and compensation structures which are valued by the international community for their net positive impact on vulnerable assets under productive utilization.
The world has recently gathered in search of a permanent solution to climate change and Guyana may now hold the key to such a desperately needed solution. Will we as a nation overcome and rise to the occasion while still benefiting from our resources and truly obtain the Good Life for both ourselves and our future generations? Let it be so.
“Onward, upward, may we ever go,
Day by day in strength and beauty grow,
Till at length we each of us will show
What Guyana’s sons and daughters can be”
Mr. Jamil Changlee
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