Home Letters My response to Melinda Janki on oil exploration
Reference is made to a letter by Melinda Janki, who is demanding the immediate halt to all oil exploration and production in the Guyana Basin. Despite her group being called Fair Deal for Guyana, she actually wants No Deal for Guyana. At some point, they will make up their minds what they want, but if it is No Deal, as their website calls for, is this a rational position? And, in fact, is banning any more fossil fuel exploration worldwide realistic or sensible?
We are already seeing the effects of this kind of hysteria with natural gas prices in the UK being ten times what they were last year and the oil price heading to $90 per barrel. In Europe and China, steel and fertiliser plants are closing down as we speak, because of the high price of electricity and rationing. There is now a real possibility that a shortage of fertiliser would cascade into crop shortfalls and hunger.
This supply crunch is a combination of surging demand post COVID-19 and underinvestment in the energy industry for several years, partly due to environmentalists pressuring oil companies to cut exploration and to diversify. This shortfall will become more and more apparent in years to come, and we may pay a terrible price as we wait for renewable solutions to fill the void.
Even then, we can see that, for large solar and wind farms, they cannot avoid those cloudy, windless days when they deliver nothing to the grid. Droughts in Brazil have also caused hydropower energy to plummet. What is needed is a collaborative approach by all parties, from Governments to industry to consumers, to safely navigate the energy transition. Let us hope that COP26 is more reason, and less of this posturing alarmism.
As for Guyana, does Ms Janki really think we, as a people, should give up oil revenues in the hope some Western country will give us the money instead? Even when we reach 1M barrels per day by 2027, it will still make up less than 1% of total daily production. Morally, it is reprehensible that those countries that have polluted the planet for centuries, and continue to do so, should dictate to developing ones that they should not produce oil or consume natural gas.
This is a cynical form of neocolonialism, and Ms Janki is trying it on her own homeland. It’s never going to happen; and even if it were, the Norway Fund is an example of how these countries want poor ones to jump through hoops for decades to access the money.
Guyana can do both. We can be an oil producer, and still preserve our rainforest while moving to clean energy. The path we are on is correct. Ms Janki’s anti-oil/pro-oil argument is deliberately simplistic, just as her doomsday hypotheticals are dubious.
Arjoon Singh, NY