Author:Gutierrez, Santiago

In 2020, the country will become a top Caribbean oil producer. Finance Minister Winston Jordan says: "We are gaining prominence."

The huge 6.6 million-acre Stabroek Block had been drilled 22 times before by other companies since 1970 without any commercial results, but on the morning of May 6, 2016, it became clear to the ExxonMobil drilling team, that they had come across a major find. Their discovery put Guyana on the oil and gas maps of the world for the first time.

The initial finding at more than 5,000 feet below the surface in ultra-deep water well Liza-1, located north of the capital of Georgetown, was followed by what ExxonMobile described as "the largest proprietary 3-D seismic survey in the company's history".

The company combed the Stabroek Block, and soon a new well, Liza-2, confirmed its considerable size. Further drillings hiked reserves to 2.3-2.8 billion of oil equivalent barrels, which made it one of the industry's largest oil discoveries of the decade.

These figures will place Guyana as the leading oil producer in the Caribbean, well ahead of Trinidad and Tobago (0.7 billion barrels in reserves), and neck and neck with South American nations such as Argentina (2.4 billion barrels) and Colombia (2.3 billion barrels.)

The first barrel of oil coming from this block--owned by ExxonMobil, US-based Hess, and Chinese CNOOC--will be pumped in the second quarter of 2020, but interest in the small South American country has already increased dramatically. At the Inter-American Development Bank's General Assembly in Asuncion last March, Guyana's Minister of Finance, Winston I Jordan, held an unprecedented 20 meetings with investors and governments wanting to get a first-hand account of the new Guyanese opportunities, he told Latin Trade. "We are slowly gaining prominence," he said.


Well managed, this stroke of luck could lift the country to a new level of development. The government expects GDP to grow between 3.5% and 3.8% in 2017 and 2018, and to balloon after that, fueled by oil and mining investments.

However, as always, brisk growth and oil money are never sufficient to secure material prosperity for the majority of citizens. Jordan believes Guyana needs to solve three sizeable problems in order to do that.

First, the country must unify the population by eliminating the permanent frictions between descendants of Indians, who make up 44% of the population, and Africans, 30% of the population.

Second, take...

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