President Ali takes crusade for ‘frank, balanced’ discussion on oil & gas to Europe


By Neil Marks in Brussels 

As Guyana looks to shake off the irony of pursuing both rapid, high-volume oil and gas developments and a low-carbon economy, President Irfaan Ali is in the European capital Brussels to continue his campaign for a balanced discussion and for Europe to join the market and buy carbon stored in Guyana’s trees.

Guyana is currently extracting 360,000 barrels of oil per day from two production vessels, but that production is likely to increase to more than a million within the next four years when four more ships sail in. Even when production is ramped up beyond that, Guyana has argued that it would still be carbon neutral, meaning that there will be a balance in the carbon emitted from oil production and the carbon that is stored in the forest – some 19.5 gigatons.

There is an aggressive global push to develop renewable energy sources and move away from oil, given its notoriety for discharging harmful greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, fueling climate change and bringing about extreme weather events such as deadly floods, hurricanes and fires. But Guyana insists that it will be a while before countries can develop systems to generate the required amount of energy from renewable sources, such as wind, water, and the sun, and so oil and gas will be needed for the long transition.

“…who will produce what the world needs? Who determines who the producer will be and shall be?”

Those were the questions President Ali raised as he addressed leaders from Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean at a summit in Brussels.

“Are we willing to have a frank, balanced approach on the discission on oil and gas?”

President Ali said the discussions about phasing out oil and gas has to take place with those who produce it.

“Are we willing to invite all the stakeholders around the table?

“We cannot say that we want to find a common solution and lock out the producers of hydrocarbons from the discussion,” President Ali declared.

“How are we going to have this balanced discussion on the energy mix that is required for the future?”

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley in conversation at the summit for leaders of the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean. (Jose Cheddie/Office of the President photo)

While Guyana pursues rapid oil and gas development, the President pointed to its leadership on the environment. Guyana is part of the Amazon region and 85% of its land area is covered in forests.

Guyana has long pursued payments for keeping the rainforest and recently, under the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions – the United Nations mechanism on avoided deforestation – Hess Corporation agreed to purchase high quality carbon credits for a minimum of $750 million between 2022 and 2032. This funding will feed projects under the Low Carbon Development Strategy – the roadmap the country is using to preserve the forest while building the economy.

The credits Hess bought is only 30% of what Guyana can be issued and with growing interest from many partners, President Ali wants the European Union to buy into the carbon credit scheme and receive a commitment ahead of the next UN Climate Summit in the United Arab Emirates.

“When is the EU going to come onboard in terms of being a purchaser of carbon credit and contributing to this market?

“These are the real questions.”

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