The KN caption should delight many a Guyanese heart: “Guyana to surpass Venezuela’s current oil output by 2022” (KN August 18). That is an OPEC founder member being spoken of, and one which could be overtaken soon enough in terms of our own oil production. Venezuela was among the big oil dogs for the longest while. From a production high of two million barrels a day in 2017, the output currently is somewhere between 100,000 to 200,000 barrels a day.
In percentage terms, that is almost a 90% drop. It should convey the starkness of the social upheavals raging in that once-rich neighbour of ours, where political mismanagement and missteps have reduced many of its citizens to flight and beggary.
Even as our hearts go out to the plight of our stricken neighbours, there is a lesson to be learned there, many hard lessons from where Venezuela is today and what got it there.
On our part, production is scheduled to ramp up to around 340,000 barrels a day by 2022. If things hold as they are in Venezuela, Guyana would be in front of this nearby country producer within a span of less than two years. That could be a noticeably short period where time flies by, but only if Guyana’s political leaders-all of them-work diligently, wisely, and courageously to get the most out of our oil wealth for the benefit of all our peoples. Remember those three words: diligently, wisely, and courageously. They have significant depth of meaning relative to how we handle what has been gifted to us by nature, geography, and divine providence.
When we live and breathe those three words as they apply to our oil wealth, then we will be a force to be respected and dealt with on the fairest of terms. It is either that, or nothing doing. Those who come up against us, with pretty sales pitches and perfect plans, have one thing in mind: how to get as much as they can from what they bring-manpower, know-how, and sophisticated skills and resources-to exploit what is underfoot.
As the reality of their primary objective, profit maximization, registers and is considered, one thing should be powerfully clear. It is that the more the foreigner get for themselves, the less the locals (that would be us) would have left to share with each other.
The challenge and objective, therefore, is to band our bellies in determination and find ways, that is, creative ways, to turn the tables on those who would squeeze every penny from every drop of our oil produced for their own benefit. When their income and profits soar, we lose. When their shareholders rejoice with rich quarterly dividend payouts, we Guyanese lament at the piddling nature of the portion left behind for us and coming our way for us to fight over.
Now there is another key that is an awakening and which should be a hard gut check. When the pickings, our take, are paltry, then we would be reduced to squabbling over the scraps tossed our way by rapacious foreign corporate partners. It is why we at this paper say and urge that we must stop the self-defeating arguing and endlessly embittering political and racial feuds and get on with properly managing our wealth and controlling our destiny in the most comprehensive way possible. It could be a way that is feared, which is why we take the opportunity to, once again, share those three words at which we must work tirelessly to manage our oil blessing. They are diligently, wisely, and courageously.
This means that partisan objectives must take second place to national dreams and visions. This could and would only occur when we work hand-in-hand and side-by-side. Everything else we have tried over the decades have failed us and left us in the dust and raging at one another. We must have the courage to identify our demons and agree to combine energies to overcome them, if only for the upliftment of all our fellow citizens.
If we fail to do so, then from now to 2022 could be a long nightmare, with the internal feuding and fighting. Just look at Venezuela today.
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