Guyana employs UK’s ‘think tank’ to explore feasibility of oil refinery
As Guyana prepares for oil production, Government has recruited United Kingdom’s think tank – Chatham House – to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing an oil refinery here.This was announced by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, explained to reporters on Friday that the issue of the refinery is not an easy question to answer with just “a yes or no.”“We have sought assistance in giving us guidance as to whether Guyana needs an oil refinery, bearing in mind we have one find of oil so far. Our demand is by all standards low because we are less than a million people,” he stated.According to Trotman, the country has committed to go into renewable energy within 10 years and therefore, it has to forecast where the economy is likely to be in terms of its dependence on hydro carbons or petroleum. This, he noted, will inform whether or not and to what extent Guyana will get into the business of oil refinery.“So indeed, I don’t believe that the pronouncement that we shall not have is the right pronouncement and neither is a pronouncement that says we shall have so right now we have commissioned a study. I hope and expect before the end of the year, Government will be guided from an economic standpoint whether or not we should have a refinery, whether or not government should have a stake in such a venture or whether it should be left to the private sector on its own,” he outlined.Even as Government awaits the findings from the study, the Natural Resources Minister pointed out that Guyana has to be recognizant of situations that prevailed in other territories. He noted that other countries where the governments got involved in the refineries, such as Suriname, are now struggling because the prices have gone down drastically and they are left with more or less a “white elephant”.Chatham House is part of a new producer’s group, which is a group of countries that are going into new producers, literally, to provide expertise to do the review as to whether or not the benefit in having a refinery.ExxonMobil recently discovered that the second exploration well in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana has a recoverable resource of between 800 million and 1.4 billion oil-equivalent barrels. The wells are located approximately 193 kilometres (120 miles) offshore. The block is 26,800 square kilometres (6.6 million acres).Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited holds 45 per cent interest in the Stabroek Block; Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd holds 30 per cent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 per cent interest.ExxonMobil is the largest refiner and marketer of petroleum products while its chemical company is one of the largests in the world.In a previous interview with Guyana Times, Associate Professor and political activist David Hinds implored Government to develop a long-term plan to manage its oil resource. In fact, he urged that Guyana should develop its own oil refinery while adding that if it cannot do so on its own, then the country should partner with Caricom countries to construct one.“That is the way to go…that is why we have Caricom… It would be nice if we can have our own oil processing here but if we cannot do it by ourselves then we can partner with sister Caricom countries to do,” he said, explaining that this is what a single market is about.He noted that if Guyana and Trinidad could develop an arrangement where they can both manage a future oil refinery in Guyana, then both Guyanese residing in Trinidad and Guyana would benefit.“It is either we have our own processing plant or we do it through a regional emphasis,” Hinds stressed.