Even though the People’s Progressive Party / Civic (PPP/C) administration has declared its intentions to implement robust local content regulations to maximize benefits for all Guyanese, there are still other steps it can take to aid its objectives. In this regard, Trinidadian Energy Strategist, Anthony Paul, notes that Guyana has the option of retaining equity in the oil blocks which could then be placed on the stock market for citizens to invest in.
Expounding further, the industry specialist who believes that this option is a viable one said, “Because Guyana owns 100 percent of the blocks to begin with, it can say ‘I will give you (the oil company) 80 percent or any other amount and I will keep the rest…’ By retaining that 20 percent, Guyana will not only have that retained for the people to invest in but it will have a voice in the decision making on the projects.”
Paul said that this decision making extends to the selection of rigs and financing to be used as well as the way the company will go about procuring local services. He noted that in some countries, the equity is vested in a state company while adding that Guyana can choose to go that route or simply put it on the stock market.
As regards the ownership of oil blocks by oil companies, Paul was keen to note that the authorities of the day must ensure that interested parties are not without the relevant experience. He stressed, “…So the hurdle must be that the interested parties have access to capital when needed and then if you are not an operator then you must have the business capacity to make the right decisions on operations management and safety.”
Paul advised that Guyana can indeed have it’s own investing and owning oil blocks because after all, it is their patrimony. Be that as it may, he said that it must be done with the best interest of the people in mind and not just for the enrichment of a few.
Whatever avenue the country decides to travel, Paul concluded that caution and international best practices must be considered at all times.