Energy corridor, deep-water harbour talks to take centre stage
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President of Guyana Dr. Irfaan Ali
President of Guyana Dr. Irfaan Ali

–as President Ali meets with Brazilian, Surinamese counterparts

COME tomorrow, President Dr. Irfaan Ali is scheduled to make a working visit to Paramaribo, Suriname, to meet with Presidents Jair Bolsonaro of the Federative Republic Brazil, and Chandrikapersad Santokhi of the Republic of Suriname.

A press statement from the Office of the President specified that the leaders will be discussing, among other things, the formation of an energy corridor, as well as mutual opportunities within the oil-and- gas sectors of all three countries.

Guyana and Suriname have burgeoning petroleum sectors, while Brazil is one of the leading oil producers of the world. The energy corridor is expected to see the countries teaming up to share power, based on a collective understanding of their needs and ability to supply.

President Ali had previously indicated that the operationalisation of this plan would require development of local knowledge and capacity in the area of logistics.
“Our own demand, locally, and the spin-off of our own investment that will see more export, would require greater logistics planning,” Dr. Ali had said previously.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

With Guyana being a critical gateway between South American and the Caribbean, the links created by this corridor would position her as a critical shipping hub.
This integration, President Ali had said, requires careful planning, and the development of a logistics industry.

Once the Suriname leg of the meeting wraps up, President Bolsonaro and his team of officials are expected to travel to Georgetown for an official one-day visit with President Ali and his team of ministers.
The latter set of discussions will centre on improving economic relations, energy and food security, telecommunications, agriculture, infrastructure integration and the development of a deep-water harbour in Guyana.

The Office of the President’s statement reasoned that since Guyana offers the shortest and quickest access to the Atlantic Ocean for significant parts of northern Brazil, a road connection linked to the deep-water port could also serve the interest of both countries.

“When the two leaders spoke last Monday via teleconference, they discussed enhancing the partial-scope agreement between their nations, with the hope of bolstering trade,” the statement noted.
It concluded: “They also deliberated on topics for further engagements at the ministerial levels.”

Another key Guyana-Brazil project is the construction of a road link from Boa Vista, Brazil, to Georgetown, Guyana.

It is unclear whether this particular subject will come up for discussion on Friday, however, in September 2020, soon after President Ali assumed office, Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes was reported as saying that his government intends to move briskly ahead to secure funding for the project, which will open up greater development for Guyana and Brazil.

“We want to make this road from Boa Vista to Georgetown; it has 100 per cent support from us,” Minister Guedes was quoted as saying during an interview with Roraima’s Senator Chico Rodrigues.

President of Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi

For context, the State of Roraima, in Brazil, is sandwiched between the southern borders of Guyana and Venezuela, and is home to Bonfim, the current and official cross-over point for Guyanese or Brazilians into Lethem in Guyana’s Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).

Both Guedes and Rodrigues believe that Guyana will be “the new Dubai of the hemisphere”, having found significant quantities of light, sweet crude offshore, with more oil blocks to be explored. The Economy Minister has projected a sense of optimism, stating that Brazil will pursue road, port and energy collaboration.

Outside of oil and gas, Brazil has also recognised the potential of Guyana’s agriculture sector, already expressing an interest in partnering with Guyanese to establish a massive cattle production industry in the Rupununi.

During a visit here in October, Aluizio Nascimento Da Silva, Roraima’s Secretary of State for Agriculture, Livestock and Supply told Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha that as part of the proposed cattle production, Guyana would see Brazil being a steady market for meats, which, he said, could be exported to Roraima to be processed at one of “the big abattoirs there”.

It is also unclear whether the smaller projects such as cattle farming will be up for discussion on Friday. Nonetheless, Guyana and Brazil established diplomatic relations on August 26, 1968, and ongoing areas of co-operation include trade, health, agriculture, transport and security.

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