Oil-rich Guyana, Suriname key to saving Caribbean from ‘mercy of other countries’


By Vishani Ragobeer in Suriname


Guyana and Suriname, the Caribbean’s newest oil-rich states, plan to develop their natural gas resources together and collaboration within the Caribbean has been touted as a solution to rising prices and supply cuts.

This is according to the President of the National Energy Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Vernon Paltoo, who backed the production of natural gas in the Caribbean at the ongoing oil and gas summit in Paramaribo, Suriname.

With the help of Trinidad and Tobago, which has been selling natural gas for years, Dr. Paltoo posited that Guyana and Suriname could aid the regional energy security needs of the wider Caribbean region.

“…we are all very successful on our own, however, the opportunity is there at this point in time for us to work together- not just as three countries but as a region.

“What this will allow us to do is build an alliance that is stronger than each country on its own,” Dr. Paltoo underscored on Wednesday, as he addressed the summit.

The need for pooling resources and collaboration has been amplified over the past few months since the small states in the Caribbean have been particularly hard-hit by supply chain constraints from the enduring COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine/ Russia crisis.

If more of the much-needed commodities, be it food or fuel, is produced within the region, Caribbean countries should not be as hard hit by those constraints.

“…with that, we would not be at the mercy of other countries of the world,” Dr. Paltoo said pointedly.

Partnerships among these three countries are not only meant to provide enough energy for the Caribbean region. But, those partnerships also make good business sense.

Already, Trinidad’s Energy Minister Stuart Young has disclosed that Trinidad and Tobago’s sale of natural gas to Europe has doubled this year. This happened largely due to the reduction of gas supplies from Russia, following the Ukraine/ Russia crisis.

Trinidad has, however, been running out of gas and it is now seeking new offshore production.  With much gas expected from Guyana and Suriname, though, the region at large could have enough gas resources to competitively market internationally.

And Deputy Director of Suriname’s Staatsolie, Eddy Frankel, said that this collaboration may be crucial to Suriname’s success.

“Collaboration with Guyana and Trinidad appears to be the only option for us as a country, the only viable option for monetisation of natural gas.

“We have no other choice than to resolve any options that exist that hinder such collaboration,” Frankel said on Wednesday.

By 2030, the Guyana Basin (that is, Guyana and Suriname) is expected to produce over one million barrels of oil per day. Alongside this, large natural gas reserves will be tapped.

Already, Guyana is moving ahead with plans to harness its offshore natural gas reserves. It is proposed that a pipeline will transport natural gas from the prolific Stabroek Block, offshore Guyana, to a natural gas liquids (NGL) plant at Wales on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD).

The gas produced at the NGL plant, it is currently proposed, will be sold to third parties for use. It is also proposed that the gas will be used to fire a nearby power plant, manned by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) that should produce 300 megawatts of electricity- about twice the amount of Guyana’s current production.

Importantly, this project is expected to slash the cost of electricity for consumers in Guyana.

Beyond Guyana’s plans for its own development, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has touted collaboration among CARICOM’s oil-producing nations.

At the opening ceremony of the oil and gas summit on Monday, he announced that the region is crafting a new plan to attract investors that can fund the region’s energy needs.

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