Foreign Secretary, Exxon Boss discuss Guyana’s sustainable oil operations, local empowerment at Houston event

  • Kiana Wilburg
  • May 15, 2024
  • Articles

CEO Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo

Guyana’s Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud and President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge participated in a panel discussion on Tuesday titled, “Bridging Oceans: Guyana’s New Horizon” hosted in collaboration with the Greater Houston Partnership and Guyana Business Journal.

The event was held at the Crystal Ballroom At the Rice Tower in Houston, Texas.

Moderated by Wazim Mowla, Associate Director of the Atlantic Council’s Caribbean Initiative, the roundtable discussion also saw participation from John Cypher, VP of International Investment & Trade, Greater Houston Partnership. Also present were Head of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Kester Hutson and Dr Terrence Blackman, Founder of the Guyana Business Journal.

The Foreign Secretary noted that Guyana has come a far way since the first page was written on its oil and gas story in the 90s.

“But where we are going is an even more exciting story,” said the official, adding that the vision for Guyana’s trajectory is perfectly outlined in the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030.

“Should we hit oil, we have always thought of what model we should emulate…in ensuring that oil is not a curse but a bane of development for traditional industries as well as new ones.

“The activities in the oil sector, and the revenues we make, we intend to use that to create new opportunities while planning beyond its end. And that is captured perfectly in our LCDS …,” the Foreign Secretary said.

During his contribution, ExxonMobil Guyana’s President, Alistair Routledge was keen to note that his company sees the development of Guyana’s hydrocarbon resources as an opportunity to ensure prosperity for all stakeholders involved.

“Since  the discovery of oil in 2015, we have felt a strong connection with the people of Guyana in working towards this goal …and we have US$55 billion in investments for Guyana and have already spent around US$30B,” Routledge said.

The ExxonMobil official also underscored the importance of the company’s commitment to ensuring all Guyanese benefit not just from resource revenue but from opportunities for employment and technology transfer.

He said it was evident in the beginning that Guyana lacked certain capabilities to tackle opportunities in the sector. To overcome those shortcomings, he said Exxon committed to investing in local content to ensure Guyanese are at the forefront of supporting the industry.

“To date, we have had 1,700 local companies supporting the industry and that to me speaks volumes about the entrepreneurial spirit of Guyanese…,” Routledge said. He noted that ExxonMobil remains committed to helping local companies not only thrive but also become globally competitive.

Diaspora support

Foreign Secretary Persaud also noted the invaluable contributions that can be made to Guyana’s development story by members of the diaspora.

He shared that the government is acutely aware of the invaluable expertise and experience that can be tapped in this community, hence there is a more structured approach in engaging remigrants through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Persaud also noted that the government plans to ramp up engagement with the diaspora through job fairs and other initiatives.

“We also have an incentive regime laid out for this too. But I must say, the diaspora has to be proactive too… come back to your country, don’t wait for someone to hold your hand and bring you; have a positive outlook…,” the Guyanese official said.

He concluded, “There is absolutely no reason why any person in the Diaspora should feel like they can’t play a part in the exciting future ahead of us. What is before us is bigger than any of us can conceptualize.”