In the eye of the storm
Kaieteur News – Guyana is an oil producer and when oil comes up, it does so with gas. The onshore gas project is a major infrastructure project, which is being planned.
The project, however, has run into a storm of criticism. These range from the location on the other side of Demerara Harbor, the lack of knowledge of the technical and economic studies, the ‘priceless’ of natural gas at this time, the implications for the public debt of undertaking a project so large and the fact that Guyana does not appear to have the capacity to use all the gas produced in the production of petroleum.
No one has yet answered what is going to happen to all that extra gas, which the proposed plant cannot use. Will this be flamed or will it be flamed and re-injected back into the seabed. These are by no means controversial concerns.
However, there seems to be another reason why there are so many doubts about the project. And the real reason it seems is because it is felt that this is yet another pet project for Bharrat Jagdeo whose history of large-scale projects is nothing short of calamitous.
Jagdeo is a big thinker. But his big mind has taken the country nowhere. He was President when he started the Amalia Falls Hydro Electric Project. That project was fraught with controversy and eventually ended after criticism from the APNU Opposition forced the developer to abandon the deal. The PPP / C for some inexplicable reasons still wants to resurrect this project thereby raising concerns about why it would need a hydroelectric project and a gas-fired plant, all of which can meet energy demand the country.
The public is wary of Jagdeo and its big plans. They remember the fiasco in Skeldon.
Skeldon Sugar Factory is Jagdeo’s biggest failure. The project plunged the already heavy sugar industry further into financial distress and has saddled the country with more than US $ 185M in additional debt. That commemorative failure alone should have forced Jagdeo into political retirement.
Other failures included the Marriot Hotel project and the Berbice River Bridge. Both of these projects were completed behind schedule and both have included flawed financial models, which effectively give preference to preferred shareholders. The National Insurance Scheme’s investment in the Bridge is in jeopardy, thus threatening the viability of the Scheme.
The future of the Marriot and the Bridge remains uncertain. The APNU + AFC nationalized the Berbice River Bridge and continued with the Marriot Hotel. If both break down, the economy can collapse with them.
The push back against the onshore gas project must be assessed in light of Jagdeo’s pitiful history in organizing large projects. People are jumping that Jagdeo and the PPP / C could be trying yet another project, which will become an environmental risk and potentially bankrupt the entire economy.
It is not clear why the Wales area was identified for the project. Given the density of the West Bank population, and the volume of maritime traffic, it is incomprehensible how, from a security point of view, that location may be suitable for such a project.
How does one run a pipeline along a river where ships are known to have crashed into the bridge and in which GPL cables are broken? The plant’s proposed location is too close to population centers; it poses an extreme risk to life and limb as well as to Demerara harbor on the other side.
The project is going to come in for a censure from environmentalists. It is ridiculous at the mention of a low carbon development scheme. Natural gas is not a clean energy source; it is a larger pollutant than carbon dioxide, which is mainly responsible for raising global temperatures.
As mentioned on a recent radio program on Kaieteur News, Guyana has made commitments under the Paris Agreement to move to 100 percent renewable by 2025. The gas-to-shore project is at the heart of those commitments, and will is bringing the Guyana environment into disrepute. standing.
But the biggest fear is that Guyana at this stage of its development should not be spending huge sums to fund a gas-fired project. There is always the possibility that the PPP / C will move towards a Public Private Partnership model for this project, but this does not remove the need for huge government investment.
Every major project, which Jagdeo has touched, seems to have attracted its fair share of justifiable criticism. His part in escorting major projects in Guyana over the next five years will cause further impressions, most of which cannot easily be dismissed.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.)