2024 Energy Conference & Supply Chain expo: Regional leaders hail Guyana’s energy security ambitions

…support also expressed for Guyana’s territorial integrity

By Jarryl Bryan

The 2024 Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo saw the attendance of a number of regional leaders, from Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, to former Colombian Head of State Ivan Duque, all of whom weighed in on Guyana and its contribution to regional energy security.

President Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Caricom Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, former President of Colombia Ivan Duque at the ribbon cutting ceremony

Leading the opening speeches on day one of the energy conference, was Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General Carla Barnett. She spoke of the region’s advancement towards renewable energy, bolstered by collaboration among member states… collaboration in which Guyana has featured prominently.
“Caricom is actively working towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future by accelerating the deployment of renewable energy sources. And fostering partnerships among member states,” Barnett said during her presentation.
“The increasing production of hydrocarbons in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago present opportunities to enhance energy security. It also presents opportunities for increased private and public investments in building social, economic, environmental and climate resilience. As the world transitions towards clean and renewable sources of energy,” she added.
Additionally, Barnett emphasised the importance and contribution capacity building and access to emerging technologies have on the development of energy potential in the region. With this in mind, the Secretary-General called for urgent action to be taken to ensure energy security and climate resilience, warning that without it the region’s development trajectory is at risk.
Meanwhile, The Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davis, expressed support for Guyana’s current push to industrialize its economic sectors. The Prime Minister also commended Guyana’s long-term plan for energy production, which also includes the important responsibility of protecting the environment.
“There is also the resistance by the global North, to allowing new entrants into the global oil market, despite the fact that the global north has historically and currently benefit from their resource of oil and fossil fuel.”
“We support Guyana in its quest to boldly fuel its industrialization on its own terms, according to the resources the people of Guyana have been blessed with,” the Bahamian leader firmly expressed to hundreds of participants.

Also taking the stage was Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, who acknowledged Guyana’s recent ascension to the Caricom Chairmanship. Rowley went on to assure Guyana and Caricom Chair President Dr. Irfaan Ali, of his and his country’s own support as they tackle regional issues together.
“I would like to congratulate the government of the cooperative republic of Guyana on bringing together key regional and international energy players for this conference. Permit me to acknowledge again his excellency, Dr Irfaan Ali, as the incoming Chairman of Caricom. Trinidad and Tobago reiterate its commitment to collaboratively advancing Caricom’s strategic priorities under your stewardship.”

As the theme of the conference was energy, the Prime Minister elaborated on the important role that energy plays, as well as the unique challenges it poses to Caricom. According to him, Caricom countries import an estimated 87 per cent of their oil, compared to the global average of 21 per cent.
This dependence, according to Rowley, has left the region vulnerable to energy market volatilities, which take a toll on crucial economic sectors within the region. And he noted the important part that regional energy producers including Guyana, Suriname and his own country will play in solving this challenge.

“Policy makers worldwide need to evaluate the central role (energy) plays in modern life. With rising concerns for future demands and climate change, the industry finds itself in a delicate situation. Only by recognizing the true scope of these challenges, and addressing their implications by offering resolutions, can the industry continue to prosper in an increasingly complex world.”
“The Caribbean energy economies of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, are significant players in this market. And will not be irresponsible, nor will we shy away from beneficial opportunities. In the pursuit of energy resilience, our region is no strangers to challenges,” he further said.

The expo also saw the attendance of former Colombian President Ivan Duque, who was in power from 2018 to 2022. In addition to an extensive presentation on energy, Duque expressed support for Guyana’s sovereignty against the belligerent Venezuela.
“Guyana is a democracy. It is a country that is full of beautiful people. Peaceful people. Who have embraced the values of liberty and prosperity. And has defended its sovereignty and territory through all the means of international law. And we and you, as members of the international and investment community, and everybody else, by being here in Guyana is to reaffirm the sovereignty and the right of the Guyanese people, against any form of threat,” Duque said.
“Your presence today is a reaffirmation of that sovereignty and opportunity. And this is a very powerful image, of what I call the exercise of sovereignty. The threats that we have seen for political reasons by the dictatorship in Venezuela, they play that same old same old game. To try to shift the attention from the electorate and the pressure for free elections.”
But Duque made it clear that Guyana has already exercised its sovereignty over the Essequibo region for hundreds of years and furthermore, has demonstrated its commitment to defending that sovereignty in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). (G3)