Understanding Energy | Information in the oil and gas industry

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MINISTER of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, speaking with the media last week, highlighted one of the most valuable commodities in the oil and gas industry: information. Given the scope and complexity of the energy industry, expertise is vital. Quality fact-based information that is free from bias is also essential for Guyanese to understand more about our new industry and stay informed on developments.

Solid industry information—from detailed analysis of global trends and geopolitics to financial modelling for individual projects—is important for all stakeholders. Governments, investors, companies and local citizens can’t make wise decisions about the management and production of oil resources without it.

Understanding and using these sources of information is critical for all stakeholders, from the average Guyanese to the private sector and government decision-makers. Having a variety of good sources of information can round out any biases, provide hard facts and offer many different points of view to help understand the complexity of different issues.
As Guyana raises its level of industry knowledge, it’s just as important to know what reputable sources look like as it is to understand the information itself.

It’s unfortunately common to see speculation passed off as news in certain media outlets or even worse, when some make outright false claims to push their own agenda. There are many unbiased and well-versed sources of information that Guyanese who want to be more informed may tap into.

The primary sources of industry information are large international organisations involved in oil and gas work, consultants and analysts, universities and think tanks, intergovernmental industry organisations and local and international media. Many of these sources will already be familiar to Guyanese.

Large international organisations, like the World Bank, Inter American Development Bank, and International Monetary Fund, maintain large specialised teams of experts and advisors that analyse resource governance and often advise countries on best practices. Their primary goal is to provide countries with enough guidance and expert advice that they can make informed choices about how they manage their resources.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris-based organisation made up of 30 member countries from the OECD nations, has a variety of energy experts that provide regular reports on all forms of energy, including oil and gas. The IEA considers itself at the “heart of global dialogue on energy” and its website (www.iea.org) provides a wealth of information.

Independent consultancies and research analysts like Wood Mackenzie, IHS Markit, Rystad Energy, Rapidan and others, exist mostly to cater to the financial space, providing impartial expertise and analysis on industry trends and activities to help lenders, investors and others make more informed decisions. Consultancies like these analyse resource contracts all over the world and can provide valuable context.

Universities like Texas A&M, University of Texas, Rice University’s Baker Institute, the University of Aberdeen, often have strong research and teaching programmes for specialised skills like petroleum accounting, subsea engineering and more. Resource economics is also a hotly debated topic at top programmes around the world like Oxford University’s Centre for the Analysis of Resource-Rich Economies.

Other respected institutions are established by intergovernmental agreements between resource- producing countries that want to share expertise and experiences with other nations like the Extractive Industries Transparencies Initiative (EITI) and the Natural Resources Governance Institute (NRGI). Guyana joined EITI in 2017.
International media from major energy and financial hubs are known throughout the industry as reputable news sources and can also be good options for people looking to learn more about how Guyana fits into the global industry. And there are magazines, news services and websites that specialise in oil and gas like S&P Platts, Argus, Oil Daily, Oil and Gas Journal, Upstream and others.

Making use of sources from around the world can help Guyanese hear global perspectives and expert opinions from analysts, academics and others with the right knowledge and a more objective “outsider’s” view.

As Minister Trotman told reporters last week, “I read the newspapers and I have access to reports from international respectable and respected agencies that are filled with multi-talented persons, many of whom I have met. Some of them have come to Guyana and they tell me a different story. So the question comes down to whose report do I believe. Do I believe the criticisms of people who have had nothing to do with oil?”