From sugar to oil: Guyana’s new opportunity

December 18, 2018

Guyana, the small, north-western country in Latin America, first made its economic mark four centuries ago thanks to its Demerara sugar cane industry.

Now it’s back in the limelight but for a different commodity.

Roughly five years ago, a major oil discovery was made off Guyana’s coastline. Since then, some of the largest industry players, such as ExxonMobil, Repsol and Tullow Oil, have flocked to the country. And with a discovery so huge, there are significant opportunities for many of the local people and the country itself, as well as the oil and gas companies.

Cane to cash

A lot of these benefits are coming in the form of royalty and tax schemes set out by the Guyanese government.

This influx of revenue will be bolstering Guyana’s economy, tackling poverty and helping to meet sustainable development targets, a universal call to action to end poverty, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Oil and gas revenues will offer many socio-economic benefits to Guyana, such as the ability to build or improve infrastructure – something the country is currently lacking. Projects such as the recently approved East Coast Demerara road, will improve transport links between towns and cities – helping the economy.

The funds will also be used to build new schools and give teachers better quality training. It will also provide more access to interactive technology, in particular computers, and upgrading physical facilities. This will help to create better opportunities for the future generations – significantly changing lives.

Open for opportunities

The Guyanese people are starting to reap some of these benefits such as improved education and job opportunities.  There is currently a push on early childhood education with additional government funding for training and facilities.

These new educational facilities will ensure the Guyanese children get improved educational prospects, opening their future to brighter opportunities.

If children are put through a top-quality, complete education, it will equip them with the skills for a better future. This will also increase the flow of future talent into the energy sector, building a strong pipeline of locals to help grow and build the industry.

And as recently as July of 2018, oil executives reported that over 600 Guyanese have found direct employment on drill rigs, coastal bases or offices, such as for the ExonMobil’s Liza project.

It’s not only these direct employment opportunities the locals are set to benefit from, but other related roles in finance and administration will also be created. Oil and gas companies don’t just need people to work offshore, but there are also crucial roles that require a range of skills onshore.

There is also a focus on upskilling the local workforce with huge opportunities for knowledge transfer and mentoring to help build the local capability.

With the influx of revenue from major operators, combined with job creation and improved training and education, Guyana and its people are set to benefit hugely from these new discoveries. And with Guyana boasting the highest oil reserves per capita in the world, the Demerara sugar cane production won’t be the only thing it is famous for.

As well as Guyana’s natural beauties and hugely friendly local population, the oil industry will also be at the forefront of the country’s legacy.


This post was written by: Damir Tomicic, Vice President – Latin America at Airswift