Oil production and green state development possible – US professor
– urges Guyana to take advantage of uniquenessAs there continues to be doubts of Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) when the country is on the path of becoming an oil producing nation, US Professor Gary Dirks is of the view that the two can very well co-exist.“There is absolutely no reason why you cannot have a green growth agenda pursued aggressively and being an oil producing nation at the same time,” the professor said during a lunchtime-lecture organised by the Guyana Press Association (GPA) and Conservation International-Guyana on Friday at Moray House in Georgetown.Professor Dirks, who is a director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability – a hub of the Arizona State University – has expertise in both environment sustainability as well as petroleum development. He has served on the boards of the India Council for Sustainable Development, the US-China Centre for Sustainable Development, and the China Business Council for Sustainable Development, and is currently a member of the Science Advisory Board of Conservation International.Additionally, before joining the ASU, Dirks was the President of the British Petroleum (BP) Asia-Pacific and the President of BP China. In China, he grew BP from an operation with fewer than 30 employees and no revenue to more thanProfessor Gary Dirks1300 employees and revenues of about $4 billion in 2008.Speaking to local media operatives, he pointed out that the world would die without the existence of fossil fuel but with the phenomenon of climate change, it also needs green development to survive and Guyana is in a unique position to capitalise on both.“The world needs this oil and frankly, if done right the country of Guyana can benefit from it. Now this means you have to ensure that ExxonMobil does a good job of protecting the environment where they’re in development, you have to make sure that they’re meeting all kinds of the regulations that you’d expect so that their development hae the smallest footprint possible… This is not the first time resources have come to the forefront as an opportunity for the country. What you have, you to be thinking about is the best way to use those resources. What sectors of the economy do you want to see developed and how do you want them to develop so that you can minimise your environmental footprint and at the same time, raising standards of living for your population,” he outlined.According to Professor Dirks, while Norway is one of the best models out there in terms of developing both an oil sector and preserving it environment, Guyana needs to exploit its uniqueness.“You wanna look at the experience of other countries for what you can learn from it but you really need to do is exploit your uniqueness. There is really no place on the planet that I can think of that is going to have the experiences that you do and is going to have the opportunities that you do,” he contends.Moreover with Guyana expected to commence commercial oil production in two years’ time, Professor Dirks went on to say too that as a first time country Guyana seems to be progressing well in terms of preparing for first oil.“I think the country is doing its homework pretty well… You’re laying out the landscape of what needs to be thought about both from the oil and gas standpoint and from the green development standpoint really pretty well… [So] I’ve seen pretty much what I’ve expected to see based on the experience I’ve had in other parts of the world,” he stated.Further, the US Professor encouraged Government to continue to engage the public through the media as to the development of the new sector.“You just need to stay engaged and you need to understand that you’re on a journey and you’re going to be on this journey for a very long time,” he posited.The local economy is expected to explode once oil production commences in 2020. Based on reports, US oil giant ExxonMobil has found in excess of four billion barrels of oil-equivalent in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana with its ninth find last month.Meanwhile earlier this week, Eco Atlantic, one of several companies drilling for oil offshore Guyana, has announced a gross figure of approximately 2.9 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalents in its Orinduik block, verified by the first ever independent assessment done on the field.