By Vishani Ragobeer in Paramaribo
With the development of oil and gas offering Guyana the prospect of unprecedent economic and social development, Belize’s Prime Minister John Briceño believes the country should go ahead with plans while putting in place environmental safeguards.
Briceño, says the 15-nation trade and integration bloc CARICOM, for which he is outgoing chair, should back these efforts.
He did acknowledge that the world should cut back on oil and gas production since this contributes to the climate crisis. But he said that the circumstances are different for the small, developing states in the Caribbean.
Like many of his Caribbean colleagues, the said the Caribbean states contribute the least amount of harmful emissions but are burdened with the responsibility of foregoing economic gains now to slow the climate crisis.
“Guyana is a perfect example.
“Guyana now has been blessed or fortunate to have found some of the largest oil reserves and now some countries want to criticise Guyana because (Guyana) wants to exploit those resources,” the Prime Minister said.
But he said “Guyana should be allowed to exploit those resources but to do it sustainably, do it environmentally conscious.”
Prime Minister Briceño also underscored that those petroleum resources are needed by the wider Caribbean. The creation of a new regional energy security plan is among the priorities of the ongoing meeting of CARICOM leaders in Suriname.
And he believes that the Caribbean can continue its advocacy for greater climate action, including much-needed funds for disaster relief, while supporting regional oil and gas production in the three oil-rich countries.
“We should be allowed to exploit our resources responsibly for the benefit of our people.
“… I agree with Guyana 100 per cent and Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago and I believe that should be CARICOM’s stance when it comes to that issue,” Prime Minister Briceño said.
On Sunday, Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali told the News Room that Caribbean countries told United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres that regional oil and gas production should be supported.
“We raised concerns of a balanced approach to the energy transition and the whole issue of developing countries being given the room to develop their resources whether it is fossil fuels, natural gas or renewables.
“(The Secretary- General) understands the specific circumstances of Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname… and he understands the need to go after these opportunities,” President Ali said.
Earlier, on Saturday, the UN Head told the News Room that he is not enthusiatic about oil production but he understands the use of the resources.
Prolific exploration in a 6.6 million-acres block called Stabroek by ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, has so far led to multiple discoveries that could result in production of 11 billion barrels of oil.
The company, along with co-venturers Hess and CNOOC, has two vessels producing, storing and offloading oil in the block. One, from Liza Phase 1, is producing an estimated 130,000 barrels a day, while the second, from Liza Phase 2, began production in February, moving production to 220,000 barrels a day.
The third project, Payara, could get going towards the end of next year and the fourth project, Yellowtail, could begin production in 2025.
Altogether, the four projects could see Guyana producing 750,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of 2025.