Guyana will be oil producer for next 100 years
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Rudolf Elias, former Chief Executive Officer of Staatsolie, Suriname’s state-owned oil company (Global Capital photo)
Rudolf Elias, former Chief Executive Officer of Staatsolie, Suriname’s state-owned oil company (Global Capital photo)

–Surinamese expert predicts

THE oil-and-gas industries of Guyana and Suriname could last for at least the next 100 years, according to Rudolf Elias, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Staatsolie, Suriname’s State-owned oil company.

Elias, in a recent radio interview on Guyana’s Oil and You, attributed the likely lifespan of the oil industry to the “sweet characteristics” of the oil resources in both countries. “Suriname and Guyana have a lot of nice, clean, light oils, and we have a lot of gas, so I think if you ask me my personal opinion, both Suriname and Guyana will be producers of oil for the coming 100 years,” Elias said, adding: “Because we are low cost producers, that means that by the time all the high-cost producers are already stopped because they are too expensive, or bankrupt because they are too expensive, we will still be producing.”

He also pointed to the fact that the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are also well-positioned to drive the global energy transition.

“Nowadays, everybody talks about renewables, and everybody talks about the transition, and the fact that oil and coal are finite parts of the energy mix,” Elias said.

“It is very good that we have a good look on how we can contribute to that,” he added.

The foregoing sentiment falls in line with the government’s mission to make Guyana the energy capital of the region. As it is, Guyana has plans to achieve the coveted use of 70 per cent renewable energy with the implementation of a comprehensive energy mix, driven by ‘hydro’, solar, wind and natural gas.

This was outlined in the expanded draft Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which also indicated the establishment of a US$900 million gas-to-shore project, which will see natural gases offshore Guyana being transported to an onshore plant, using state-of-the-art pipelines. After this process, the gas will then be treated and converted to power, after which it will be received by a power plant to supply the national grid.

More importantly, this modus operandi will minimise the environmental impacts of Guyana’s oil operations.

Further, as Guyana continues to balance its oil wealth with its global climate change commitments, the government is also pursuing the eventual establishment of a second hydropower plant similar to that which is being constructed at the Amaila Falls, in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).

Once up and running, this proposed second hydropower plant is expected to provide some 370 megawatts of electric capacity by 2035, and a further 150 megawatts of capacity by 2040. In the meantime, Amaila Falls will be the focus of the hydropower programme.

The average lifespan of a hydropower system, according to the expanded LCDS, is 100 years, which will coincide with the minimum projected lifespan of the oil sector.

“Within the renewable energy resources available in Guyana, ‘hydro’ will be important to the provision of firm capacity and short-term energy storage to compensate daily and weekly fluctuations from solar and wind,” the document noted.

It said, too, that in the long term, hydropower will provide a cheaper solution than any other technology, due to its long lifespan.

In addition to the two giant plants, Guyana will also be implementing a number of small hydropower projects.

To this end, efforts are already underway to implement three such plants: A 150-kilowatt initiative at Kato in Region Eight; the rehabilitation of the Moco-Moco hydropower site in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), which would increase the capacity up to 0.7 megawatts; and a new 1.5-megawatt hydropower plant in Kumu, also in Region Nine.

“The Moco-Moco and Kumu hydropower projects will provide energy to the Lethem grid. It is expected that those two projects, in combination with an ongoing solar PV project, will provide the Lethem grid with 100 per cent renewable energy in 2023,” the LCDS 2030 predicts.

The document noted, too, that through other small hydropower projects established to support regional grids and Hinterland villages, Guyana has a potential for 8.5 Gigawatt (GW) of hydropower on 33 hydropower plants, including storage capacity and run-of-river.

Added to that, Guyana has also managed to secure US$75 million in funding to establish solar farms in eight grids, with the intention of producing some 27.8 megawatts-peak (MWp) of solar power to the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System (DBIS).

The farms are expected to be up and running by 2023, paving the way for solar-generated power to replace 30 per cent of the electricity being supplied to areas along the Essequibo Coast, Linden, Bartica, Lethem, Mabaruma, Mahdia, Leguan and Wakenaam.

Moreover, Elias has also pointed to the need for preservation of the forest and biodiversity resources of both Suriname and Guyana; this, too falls in line with the plans of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, which has set out to pursue the sale of carbon credits. Estimates have suggested that the value of Guyana’s forests is between US$40-$54 billion.

It has been noted that by refusing to clear its forests, Guyana foregoes opportunities for agriculture, mining and infrastructure, in favour of providing ecosystem services to the world and sequestering carbon to mitigate the rapid warming of the earth.

Guyana’s position is that its people, and those from countries with similar forest endowments, must be recognised for this contribution to the world in a tangible way.

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