Effective management of oil revenues can transform lives and livelihoods – Dr Bynoe

Director of the Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe, has said the sustainable development of Guyana’s recent hydrocarbon discoveries and the revenues which they will accrue have the potential to truly place the country on a sustainable development pathway.
He also noted that this development is occurring at a particularly opportune time, when the country is pursuing development based on the principles enshrined in its Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).
Dr. Bynoe made these statements at the University of Guyana’s ‘Turkeyen and Tain Talks 18’ event, titled “Energy for Guyana, Renewable Energy, Oil, Gas and Guyana’s Green Future”, which was hosted at the Pegasus Hotel as part of ‘Energy Week’ activities.
Dr. Bynoe was among eight other panellists from a group including professors from local and international academia, among others relative to the energy sector, who made presentations to translate new concepts and foster further discussions on creating a productive, efficient, and sustainable energy sector in Guyana.
In his discourse on the topic “Oil and Gas in a Green’ Guyana,” Dr. Bynoe said, “Energy is not an end in itself. It’s what it can be used for to transform the lives and livelihoods of all Guyanese going forward. Further, the GSDS is premised upon the effective management of the country’s natural resource wealth, inclusive of our hydrocarbons, supporting economic resilience and building human capital (in) Guyana.”
He noted that pursuing oil and gas development does not necessarily run counter to the paradigms of the GSDS model.
“It is not just about energy; it’s a development paradigm. How can we achieve these objectives in the face of Guyana’s expanding oil and gas reserve estimates? Firstly, while there continues to be substantial discussions around the utilisation of the oil revenues (as there should be), the hydrocarbon resource revenues are expected to be the catalyst for growth and funding of the GSDS, whether for example in pursuing cheap and reliable energy, including for value addition in other sectors…. We must be able to understand where the growth sectors are, and be able to target and put resources therein; and I can say, coming from my own background and what we’re already seeing in terms of the supporting structures to support the oil and gas industry, we’re already seeing an increasing demand for energy,” he said.
Guyana Energy Agency’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mahender Sharma shared a similar view. In his presentation, titled “Guyana and Energy: A General Overview”, he said having oil and gas does not preclude Guyana from pursuing sustainable development.
“I see the word ‘sustainable’ is absent from this title, but not because we have oil and gas (it) means [that] we cannot approach our energy sector development and our country’s development in a sustainable manner. We all know that we have lots of hydropower resources; we know that we get good sunshine. We’ve also learnt that the wind regime on the coast of Guyana is fairly good…and Government has been capitalising on much of this,” he said.
Dr. Sharma recalled that Guyana’s hydropower potential, for example, was examined since around the 1970s, and “that is huge; it’s at the order of 7000 megawatts. Our peak demand is still about 115-118 megawatts… [or thereabouts], so we need to develop that…
“The energy matrix of the future must bring in to consideration — must incorporate — what we have in Guyana, must incorporate gas, oil, if possible hydro power, solar and wind; and that diversity is what adds strength and provides us [with] the kind of energy security that we need,” he said.
In this vein, Professor of Corporate Finance and Energy Investment at ITAM and CBMEX in Mexico, Jose Pablo Rinkenbach — who said his country has been producing oil for more than 100 years, and has, over the last 10 years, been creating a robust and sustainable energy sector — said there are five lessons that were learnt, which may prove valuable for Guyana at this stage of her development.
“The first one has to be that you have to have an holistic approach. Don’t think just about oil and gas; think about energy, because otherwise you risk having Dutch disease…of putting all the resources into oil and gas. Having energy and energy focus will help you in order to have a right, balanced energy matrix…” he said.
Having a robust regulatory framework, embracing transparency, focusing on national development, and managing information are also important, he added.
This event was hosted as part of the University’s roster of activities for its “Energy Week” observance.