Dominican Republic eyes oil refinery in Guyana

…signs MOUs with Guyana for energy, air and regional cooperation

Stemming from the abundance of opportunities available from the local oil and gas sector, the Dominican Republic is exploring the possibility of collaborating with Guyana for the establishment of a crude oil refinery here.
This was revealed by Dominican Republic President, Luis Abinader, during a one-day visit to Georgetown on Thursday. The visiting Head of State was accompanied by a delegation comprising of both government and private sector officials.
Following brief bilateral talks between President Dr Irfaan Ali and President Abinader at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Greater Georgetown on Thursday, Senior Ministers from the two regional nations signed three pacts to strengthen collaborations including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Energy-related matters.
This MoU seeks to establish a framework to facilitate and enhance bilateral cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector of the two countries based on equality and mutual benefit. It will include the promotion of investments in each other’s countries, as well as technology transfer, research and development, the building of human resources and collaboration in the natural gas sector.

Energy partner
Prior to the signing of the agreement, President Abinader remarked that the Dominican Republic is eager to partner with Guyana in the energy sector.
“Guyana will be the energy partner of the Dominican Republic and will be a destination for all the produce [from Guyana’s oil and gas sector] …In this MoU, we will also look at exploration and exportation of gas, oil and also, if possible, because it will have to be discussed between our countries and private sectors… a refinery – a joint venture here in Guyana,” the Dominican Republic leader stated.
Currently, Guyana has proven reserves of some 11 billion barrels of crude offshore in the ExxonMobil-operated Stabroek Block alone.
The MoU signed by Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat and Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Roberto Álvarez creates the opportunity for support towards financing and construction of a refinery in Guyana.
It was announced that a joint working group will be set up within the next three months to discuss the various arrangements for cooperation in the energy sector and to also oversee the implementation of initiatives agreed to by the two sides.
Only in April, it was reported that the Guyana Government has not yet made a decision on whether it will pursue the construction of an oil refinery in the country, though it had previously indicated that several proposals were received on this.
Nevertheless, President Ali on Thursday used the opportunity to encourage the Dominican Republic Delegation to participate in other areas within Guyana’s oil and gas industry such as the ongoing oil block auction.
At least 14 oil blocks are currently up for tender including 11 in the shallow area and three in deep-sea area. These blocks will range from 1000 to square kilometres (sq. km) to 2000 sq. km but with most of the blocks being approximately 2000 sq. km.
Based on industry feedback, the Guyana Government has extended the deadline for the competitive bidding process from April to July 15, 2023. This was also done to facilitate the advanced pace of modernising the oil and gas regulatory framework.

Abundance of opportunities
Moreover, the Guyanese Head of State also highlighted the abundance of opportunities that will come on stream when the model Gas-to-Energy project is operationalised by the end of 2024. This initiative features the construction of an integrated Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) plant and a 300-megawatt (MW) combined cycle power plant at Wales, West Bank Demerara (WBD).
According to President Ali, while the immediate need for this project will be to supply gas for local use, the long-term vision is to use the resource to fuel the country’s manufacturing sector.
“The greatest disadvantage now for manufacturing and agro-processing in Guyana is the cost of power. But the cost of power will be reduced substantially in the next two years. It will be cut by half because of the Gas-to-Shore project that we’re doing,” the Guyanese Leader told a room packed with potential Dominican Republic investors.
Meanwhile, of the other two agreements signed on Thursday between the two regional nations was a Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultation between the Foreign Ministries of Guyana and the Dominican Republic. This pact will establish a mechanism for periodic meetings to be held on a wide range of topics at the level of senior officials of the two foreign ministries to allow for discussions and the exchange of views on issues concerning bilateral relations and international matters of mutual interest.
The third MoU signed was an Air Services Agreement between Guyana and the Dominican Republic. It deals with establishing and operating air services between and beyond the two countries, and serves an important tool in fostering collaborations between the two nations in the area of Tourism.

SkyCana flights
In fact, this Air Services MoU comes on the heels of Dominican Republic-based airline, SkyCana commence flights between the two countries on Thursday.
During his visit in Georgetown, President Luis also participated in the opening of the first Dominican Republic Embassy in Guyana. Only Wednesday, President Ali accredited the Dominican Republic Ambassador, Ernesto Torres Pereyra, to Guyana.
In a Joint Statement on Thursday, the two Heads of State said these moves will augur well for enhanced cooperation and facilitate opportunities for further engagement in the advancement of the bilateral agenda between Guyana and the Dominican Republic.
The missive also detailed that discussions between the two Presidents focused on enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries and expressed their commitment to pursue greater collaboration, particularly in the areas of energy, agriculture, tourism, trade, ICT, infrastructure and industry.
President Ali welcomed the keen interest of the private sector from the Dominican Republic in Guyana. Both Presidents recognised the important contribution which the private sectors of the two countries could make in advancing this agenda and encouraged increased collaboration and partnership between businesses of Guyana and the Dominican Republic including increased investments by companies from both countries.
The Presidents also discussed issues of mutual interest and concern on the regional, hemispheric and multilateral agendas and undertook to strengthen their resolve to collectively work on advocating in the interest of Small Island Developing States to address challenges including food security, energy security and the impact of climate change.
In a follow-up to these initial discussions, President Dr Irfaan Ali will be paying a reciprocal visit to the Dominican Republic later this month.