US interest in the Guianas growing amidst Exxon-Mobil mega oil find

US delegation in Paramaribo, Suriname

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — In an unprecedented visit of its kind to Guyana and Suriname, two relatively obscure South American countries, a large congressional delegation from the United States visited Georgetown and Paramaribo last week.

Following US ExxonMobil’s announcements of its discovery of substantial oil reserves offshore Guyana, these two countries are drawing diplomatic attention from all corners of the world and more countries are set to open diplomatic missions there.          

The US congressional visit comes four years after Congressman Darrell Issa famously confused Guyana in South America with Guinea in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak.

Meanwhile, the “deal” ExxonMobil signed with the current administration has been characterised as another form of “economic-colonisation” and very unfair to Guyana. The debate has been the focus of media attention in Guyana on a daily basis. However, the government renegotiated an earlier 1999 agreement and has claimed that it secured a “better deal”.

According to Maria Cortez, Wood Mackenzie’s Latin American upstream senior research manager, “Guyana has hit the jackpot. If this small South American nation with a population of about 750,000 can properly manage the billions of dollars of revenue about to come its way, it may become the richest corner of the continent.”

According to the United States Geological Survey, an estimated 13.6 billion barrels of oil and 32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas probably exist in the Guyana-Suriname Basin.

Sources told the Stabroek News in March that the late president Janet Jagan’s government “awarded 600 offshore blocks to Esso exploration in 1999 because a key factor was the then government’s interest in attracting big name American investors who would help fend off Venezuela’s decades-old claim to the Essequibo region.”

According to a government press release, on August 23 President David Granger met the US delegation, which was headed by Republican Bob Goodlatte, and included Republicans Steve Cohen, John Rutherford, Scott Peters, Mark Sanford, Richard Hutson and Tod Rokita and other officials.

The local media expressed criticism that the team lacked diversity and was basically made up of white Republican males.

Granger said that the meeting was a ‘fact-finding’ mission to continue stronger engagement between the two countries.

“We are part of the hemisphere. We have cordial relations with the United States. I see the meeting as largely fact-finding. They want to familiarise themselves with the situation in the hemisphere as a whole and of course, today the focus was on Guyana,” the president said.

During the meeting, discussion centered on Guyana’s political stability, security, border issues with Suriname and Venezuela; Guyana’s emerging oil and gas sector and environmental issues.

“I dealt with the geographic scenario and the fact that Guyana is a continental state. It is a part of the South American continent but with Caribbean characteristics. It’s the only English-speaking state and as a result of that we have lots of advantages, but at the same time, you know, we are not only perceived as the gateway to South America for the Caribbean but we’re the gateway to the Caribbean for South America,” Granger said.

Minister of foreign affairs, Carl Greenidge, and minister of state, Joseph Harmon, were also present in the meeting.

After the brief stop in Guyana, the US delegation proceeded to the presidential palace in Suriname and was received by acting president, Michael Ashwin Adhin.

The US delegation, VP Adhin, Foreign Minister Beighle-Pollack and other Surinamese officials

Adhin who is the vice-president of Suriname, is acting president since President Desi Bouterse is in Cuba for surgery. Adhin said on Facebook, “We received the members of the Congress of the United States. The purpose of the visit was to discuss various issues with various ministers, in which the US could support and/or work together, such as, climate issues, forest management and conservation and related funding, cross-border crime, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Suriname, but also attracting foreign direct investments, business to business deals. It was a fruitful visit and the United States would like to support us with these issues.”

The US embassy in Paramaribo said that, while the visit was brief, the congressmen met with Adhin, the minister of foreign affairs Yidiz Pollack-Beighle, minister of defence Ronny Benschop, minister of justice and police Stuart Getrouw, and the director of national security Danielle Veira, as well as the president of the National Assembly Jennifer Geerlings-Simons.

“During these meetings, the congressmen and Surinamese leaders discussed areas of mutual interest and cooperation such as the mining and oil industries, defense cooperation, combating transnational crime, and foreign investment opportunities,” the embassy said.

According to industry experts, it is only a matter of time before Suriname also makes major oil discoveries. Suriname is experiencing a rush of oil investors but, unlike Guyana, has had a national oil company and policy for some decades and any foreign multinationals must cut a deal with state-owned Staatsolie Oil Company, allowing Suriname to strike a fairer deal for its people.

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  • michael hawkins  On September 4, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Keep an eye on them as they are wolves in sheep’s clothing

    guyaneseonline posted: ” September 2, 2018 – Caribbean News Now – By Ray Chickrie GEORGETOWN, Guyana — In an unprecedented visit of its kind to Guyana and Suriname, two relatively obscure South American countries, a large congressional delegation from the United “

  • Ian Wishart  On September 5, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Whatever the disadvantages of Guyana’s agreement with Exxon-Mobil, at least the Venezuelan’s won’t play “silly buggers” with America’s (and the world’s) largest oil company.

    • S Laydee  On September 6, 2018 at 9:45 pm

      Disadvantages?! The President of Guyana has failed his voter base (Afro Guyanese) and sold the billions of oil reserves for nothing to white Republican bigots.

      Why should 30 million Venezuelan citizens have to suffer, starve and die because of American sanctions?

      You’re taking the side of white America when Blacks, Hispanics and immigrants are victims of racial harassment in the States.

      I live in Canada, and I’ve been racially profiled many times, but when I seek help, a white or Jewish woman gaslights me by saying that the whites weren’t racist at me when they sent security guards to follow me at the store, but a white woman who could work in the underground economy for all I know, is not treated like a criminal when she enters that store wearing nothing but a g-string at high-end designer stores.

      I don’t trust the intentions of these Republican congressmen traveling to Guyana to steal the oil and to set up a military base to instigate a war with Venezuela.

      Whites have oppressed Africans for almost 500 years in Canada and USA, and you magically expect them to play fair (no pun intended) on “third world s-holes”?!

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