‘Our hos­pi­tal­ity must not be taken for granted’

-En­ergy Dep’t head says

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

As the coun­try seeks to at­tract in­vest­ment, Head of the Depart­ment of En­ergy Dr. Mark By­noe has said that it must be done in a way that bal­ances the in­ter­ests of in­vestors and ben­e­fits to the cit­i­zenry.

“Guyana is seek­ing to en­cour­age busi­ness, not dis­cour­age it, but it must be in a bal­anced man­ner, where Guyana and Guyanese ben­e­fit pro­por­tion­ately, whether it be in the form of lo­cal busi­ness sec­tor sup­port, project par­tic­i­pa­tion, joint ven­tures or ful­fill­ing of one’s cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity,” By­noe said on Fri­day. “We are work­ing to en­sure that our peo­ple ben­e­fit, and ben­e­fit ap­pro­pri­ately from the ex­ploita­tion of their nat­u­ral re­sources. Our hos­pi­tal­ity must not be taken for granted,” he added.

He was at the time de­liv­er­ing the key­note ad­dress to at­ten­dees at a launch­ing event held at the Mar­riott Ho­tel to mark the open­ing of a new branch of Hughes, Fields and Stoby in Hous­ton, United States, where the lo­cal law firm hopes to tap op­por­tu­ni­ties in the oil and gas sec­tor.

By­noe called on Guyanese to be pre­pared for the “tec­tonic shift” in this coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment tra­jec­tory, say­ing that they must be pre­pared and well po­si­tioned to both con­trib­ute to and ben­e­fit from it.

Exxon’s find of over 4 bil­lion oil-equiv­a­lent bar­rels in the Stabroek Block, off­shore Guyana, will be the main cat­a­lyst for the trans­for­ma­tion.

Defin­ing gov­ern­ment’s role in the new in­dus­try, By­noe said that it wants to see its cit­i­zenry thrive and all of its poli­cies and plans will be crafted and ex­e­cuted to en­sure that prac­ti­cal ap­proaches are taken in the best in­ter­est of its peo­ple.

As a re­sult, his depart­ment has been given the man­date, al­beit in its cur­rent in­fancy, to gov­ern and ad­min­is­ter the na­tion’s up­stream and mid-stream oil and gas re­sources, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously main­tain­ing stake­holder en­gage­ment in the hy­dro­car­bon sec­tor of the econ­omy on a con­tin­u­ous ba­sis.

The di­rec­tion the depart­ment is seek­ing to pur­sue, he said, is to fol­low its man­date even as it fo­cuses on adopt­ing best prac­tices to fa­cil­i­tate the “op­ti­mal de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try’s hy­dro­car­bon re­sources.”

But he was quick to re­mind that hy­dro­car­bons are non-re­new­able re­sources and there­fore Guyana would be fo­cused on tran­si­tion­ing to­wards much cleaner, more sus­tain­able and se­cure forms of en­ergy gen­er­a­tion, in keep­ing with the Green State De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy (GSDS).

“Cen­tral to this re­cal­i­bra­tion, will be the gov­er­nance struc­ture im­ple­mented and the con­scious ef­fort to con­tinue to pro­mote the GSDS as a ve­hi­cle to ben­e­fit all of Guyana,” he said.

Im­me­di­ate and neart­erm plans by his depart­ment will in­clude a num­ber of strate­gies, such as “set­ting the leg­isla­tive frame­work in place, in­clu­sive of the com­ple­tion of ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of the req­ui­site leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions; com­ple­tion of the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy, the Petroleum Com­mis­sion Bill, the ar­chi­tec­ture for the op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of the Nat­u­ral Re­source Fund (NRF), Petroleum Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion Leg­is­la­tion and Reg­u­la­tions, and Petroleum Tax­a­tion and Fis­cal Leg­is­la­tion; hav­ing a good un­der­stand­ing of top side and sub-sur­face min­eral de­posits through hav­ing the req­ui­site analy­ses con­ducted and data­bases held; un­der­stand­ing the global trends in mar­kets, tech­nolo­gies and mar­ket struc­tures, in­clu­sive of bet­ter eco­nomic mod­el­ling and fore­cast­ing and vary­ing and mod­i­fy­ing a range of as­sump­tions un­der­pin­ning th­ese mod­els; and reg­u­lat­ing the re­quire­ments and con­di­tions of ex­ploita­tion….”

Fur­ther, he also listed “En­hanc­ing con­tract ad­min­is­tra­tion; de­vel­op­ing an ef­fec­tive and trans­par­ent sys­tem for al­lo­cat­ing pro­duc­tion rights, in­clu­sive of com­plet­ing a model Pro­duc­tion Shar­ing Agree­ment (PSA); re­duc­ing rev­enue leak­age through re­cruit­ing the re­quired tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise; adopt­ing ef­fec­tive mech­a­nisms for con­trol­ling li­cences, con­tracts and op­er­a­tions; and de­vel­op­ing do­mes­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties along the value chain through train­ing and men­tor­ing pro­grammes and at­tach­ments, as well as par­tic­i­pat­ing in the new petroleum pro­duc­ers group.

But for the depart­ment’s goals to be re­alised, it will re­quire strong part­ner­ships, in­ter­nal co­he­sion, and a well-co­or­di­nated ap­proach for the de­ploy­ment of

sub­stan­tial re­sources and a va­ri­ety of ex­per­tise and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, By­noe be­lieves. “It is for th­ese rea­sons that the Depart­ment con­tin­ues to seek to en­gage with those who have a man­dated re­spon­si­bil­ity and oth­ers that may have a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in a par­tic­u­lar area which can be used to the ben­e­fit of all Guyanese. Fur­ther­more, given the mag­ni­tude of ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently man­ag­ing the hy­dro­car­bon sec­tor, a mix­ture of pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor en­gage­ment would ap­pear most fea­si­ble at this time,” he said, while not­ing that “It is not the ex­pec­ta­tion that all “i”s will be dot­ted and “t”s crossed be­fore we achieve all our stated ob­jec­tives, but rather a phased de­vel­op­ment will be the best modus operandi.”

Dr. Mark By­noe

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