Guyana: The good, the bad and the ugly prior to 2020 elections


MAP/World Map 1/Duck Duck Go

The small Caribbean country of Guyana is on the brink of becoming one of the largest oil-producing nations in the world thanks to the 2015 discovery of major offshore oil deposits. 

This newfound wealth set into motion a transformative period for the country, which is one of the poorest nations in South America as more than 36 percent of its people are living in poverty.

But as in many cases, the blessing and promise of billions of dollars in revenue to fill the state’s coffers have also been marred in corruption scandals and caused in 2018 a major political crisis that will be resolved on March 2 as hundreds of thousands of Guyanese head to the polls. 

The Guyanese people have been waiting for this day ever since President David Granger received a motion of no confidence in Dec. 21, 2018 with 33 votes against 32. A decision later upheld by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in 2019.

The no-confidence motion, a first in the nation’s history, on the leader of the Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) party was led by former president and opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).

Jagdeo stated Granger “sold” the country’s “patrimony” to Exxon Mobil, accusing the government of mismanaging oil resources and granting the transnational overly generous contract terms. 

The government, on the other hand, has insisted that it got the best deal it could and is banking on new oil wealth to transform the economy of the English-speaking country of just 750,000. 

So as people head to the polls to elect a new five-year administration amid the recent oil boom, Guyana’s situation could be summarized into the good, the bad and the ugly. 

The Good

In May 2015 ExxonMobil shocked the world and the Guyanese as the company announced the discovery of significant oil deposits in the Liza-1 well, followed by Payara, Liza Deep, Snoek, Turbot, Ranger, and Pacora by early 2018. 

ExxonMobil and Hess reported that new discoveries contained estimated resources exceeding eight billion barrels of oil equivalent – one of the world’s largest reserves-, potentially producing 750,000 barrels per day by 2025. In rough estimates, this placed the oil wealth at over US$300 billion. 

In a nation with a per capita income of under US$4,000, the findings meant a game-changer. 

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