Four hundred and thirty miles away from these shores, Trinidad and Tobago’s authorities are preparing to close its National Oil Company (NOC) called Petrotrin. It is no longer sustainable to keep it alive. Petrotrin has lost about US$150M in the last five years. It also anchored in US$380M in debt.
Since the announcement by TT officials to close shop on Tuesday, many observers are questioning whether Guyana should even adopt the NOC ideal at all.
But Chartered Accountant and Oil and Gas Academic, Christopher Ram remains an optimist. He says that the fundamental lesson to take away is not that NOCs are bad for Guyana, but rather, stronger measures would be needed to ensure its success.
Ram said, “You have to understand that TT is pulling out at the end of their production cycle. We are at the beginning of ours plus we have more oil in our reserves than TT ever had on its best day…What we need to have is proper provisions in place. We need to figure out early, how we would manage ours and what would be done when it has served its purpose.”
The Chartered Accountant continued, “But I don’t believe that fear is what we should be feeling right now. We must learn from their mistakes and they made quite a lot of them in the management of their NOC.”
Ram was then reminded of the criticisms by some that Guyana’s biggest problem is governance. In fact, some observers have even highlighted that Guyana has no state enterprise that is on to the path of success and accountability.
“So? Does that mean we are cursed? Listen, I believe that if the political parties can get their hands out of the management of businesses, and allow the managers, the people with the technical skills to do their job then we can do better. We are not cursed for life when it comes to managing state enterprises. But the problem with our politicians is that we can’t get them to end this desire to want to control everything,” the columnist passionately expressed.
He said that if Guyana is to buy into such criticisms then there should be no move to establish a Natural Resource Fund.