Guyana Vows to Develop Its Oil in an Environmentally Safe Manner

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Guyana will develop its massive oil and gas discoveries with full environmental protections, a top official told a U.S. energy conference on Tuesday, pushing back against calls for energy providers to halt new exploration.

The tiny South American nation has become one of the most desired oil exploration hot spots after an Exxon Mobil-led group, including U.S.-based Hess Corp and China's CNOOC Ltd, discovered about nine billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas off its coast.

"We have been called to leave our oil in the ground; we believe it's totally unfair," Vice President Bharara Jagdeo said at an Offshore Technology Conference panel. "We’ll develop our oil industry putting in place regulations for safe, low carbon operations."

The International Energy Agency, a group of oil-consuming nations, this spring said if governments wanted to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, there would be no need for new fossil fuel developments. A United Nation panel last month also said burning fossil fuels causes climate warming.

Jagdeo, who leads the nation's energy development, said Guyana will develop its oil industry with regulations for safe, low-carbon operations. The government has been at odds with Exxon over flaring at its existing Liza production platform. Guyana is working on improving its regulatory framework and that arrangement would govern the Exxon-led consortium's next oil project, called Payara. An "aggressive" local-content policy also will be imposed, Jagdeo said.

This month Guyana took bids from traders and commodity houses to market its share of the oil produced by its partners. With no state oil company nor domestic refining, it plans to turn over marketing and sales to outside firms.


(Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Chris Reese, Sonya Hepinstall and Dan Grebler)

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