Amalia Falls Déjà vu

Dear Editor,
For some weeks now, our media was inundated with articles about the proposed “Gas to Shore” power plant. Vice-President Jagdeo has been taking the brunt of the attacks by the critics.
It reminds me of the “Amaila Falls Project” which was frustrated by similar daily attacks from the Opposition and the regular critics. This was even when all – I repeat, all – the information was shared with the Opposition parties, who had no suggestions nor criticisms when the Government representatives met them on more than one occasion. Yet the APNU voted against it in the National Assembly, and Blackstone, the US investor, walked away from the project. That was a sad day for this nation.
Many of those who were screaming against Amalia then have resumed their attacks on this new project.
What is amazing are the shouts that no study was done. Clearly, no one in Government is so irresponsible as to not have studies done on such a project. I have no doubt that feasibility studies have been done or are in the process of being done, and the results are very positive; so much so that they have generated confidence in Government’s officials to state that the project would be beneficial.
That is not hard to understand if we look at the price of fuel alone. I believe the Government is being conservative when it says that the price of gas would be half as much as heavy fuel oil. From speaking to persons familiar with generating power from gas, I believe that savings on fuel would be much greater than what the Government has stated.
This means that we could save more than US$150M per year in fuel cost. That alone suggests that we should vigorously peruse the project without undue delay.
The argument that it would encourage investments in manufacturing and processing has been made already, and need not be repeated again. We need just to emphasise that we can expect vigorous economic activities once we have cheap energy due to increased employment and greater production.
Apart from just generating power, much more can be done with the gas. Liquid gas would be produced and sold cheaply on the local market. All of these would earn Guyana substantial revenues.
The Vice President has been pilloried for using the term that, from the financial position, it’s “a no-brainer”. I think he is right even if it cost US$1B to construct. The prospects and benefits would show that the payback on the investment could be relatively very short because of the high profitability of the project.
I feel compelled to point this out, since our country and our people have lost a lot because of similar attacks on the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project. We have been deprived of having cheap energy, and that has retarded growth in our economy and prevented the country from lifting more people out of poverty.
This project has even greater possibilities and benefits for our country than Amaila did.
Let us not allow the same fate to happen to this gas-to-shore project that Amaila suffered. It would be a great tragedy.
Knowing the PPP/Civic as well as I do, I’m sure that as more concrete information becomes available, it would be shared with the public. Then I have no doubt that we would all agree that taking the decision to proceed is really not difficult.
Hopefully, we would be able to convince the “Doubting Thomases”.

Donald Ramotar
Former President

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