Jun 25, 2021 News
By Renay Sambach
Kaieteur News – While discussing several critical issues that currently have severe impact on Caribbean countries, Guyana’s oil and gas sector was given priority by the Unites States of America (USA) Congress during the House of Foreign Affairs Committee briefing.
During Wednesday’s briefing – which was focused on the Joseph Biden administration efforts to deepen the US engagement in the Caribbean – Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chairman of the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade Subcommittee, during the first minutes of his presentation stated, that the US government should work to ensure that every citizen of Guyana benefits from the oil revenues.
The congressman further conveyed that the US government will engage Guyana’s government, the opposition, all businesses and civil society to achieve an advanced, inclusive economic growth. Sires was among a group of congressional representatives who had visited Guyana in January, 2020, where discussion was held with then President David Granger, and other representatives from Guyana on the then upcoming General and Regional Elections.
Congressman Sires at the briefing stated, that the severe flooding Guyana has faced in recent months is a reminder that climate change is having a devastating impact on Caribbean countries. As such he noted, “We need to step up our efforts to support climate resilience and energy security in the region.”
Fellow congressman Mark Green (R-TN) and Ranking Committee Member, in his presentation stated, that this year has proven to be a pivotal year for the Caribbean’s energy resources and highlighted, that Guyana’s oil sector is growing and will potentially provide an alternate to Venezuela’s. According to Green, Guyana’ oil and gas sector is critical, since it can transform the country from one of the poorest in the Caribbean to one of the wealthiest.
The American congressional focus on Guyana’s oil sector comes at a time when the deal between Guyana and American oil giant company, ExxonMobil has been placed under increasing scrutiny by industry advocates and observers, both local and international.
Kaieteur News has reported that the concerns about Exxon’s deal have focused on the economic and environmental impact of the oil industry. For example, this publication had reported that international lawyer Melinda Janki believes that ExxonMobil’s relationship with Guyana amounts to an attempt at colonization. While speaking to anti-colonialist Kingston University Professor, Andy Higginbottom, Janki, in speaking about the Exxon contract, had stated during the online forum that, “the main point of colonization is to take a country’s resources and to pay little or nothing. The colonizing entity co-opts the political elite, [then] the colonizing entity and the co-opted political elite rely on agents and accomplices. Together, you have an unholy trinity that completes the colonization.”
Additionally, former Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams, had also said that the US oil company, needs Guyana more than the country needs them, especially now that the oil company is facing some financial challenges. Dr. Adams had underscored during his presentation on a virtual Moray House Trust discussion, the need for Guyana to stop being intimidated by ExxonMobil and demand favourable terms as the American multinational’s standing in the future is highly dependent on the successful outcome of its projects here.
In Thursday’s edition, this publication reported that local activists told Exxon shareholders that an oil spill from Payara project could reach Jamaica but Guyana remains without full coverage insurance to offset an oil spill.
In a letter to the shareholders, the activists noted that Exxon is drilling in the Amazon-Orinoco Influence Zone, an area rich in marine biodiversity, with species that are rare, threatened or endemic. It was outlined that a well blowout would have a tragic impact on the region’s marine ecosystems. The activists also stated that it could destroy the livelihoods of people in Guyana and the Caribbean who depend on those ecosystems.
The American company has also been facing international criticism and internal pushback due to the environmental impact of its operation.
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