As the world slowly attempts to turn to alternative energy sources, nations in the Caribbean Community in a rich offshore basin near oil- and gas-rich Guyana and Venezuela are moving to exploit large deposits before it is no longer fashionable to do so.
Back in 2015, Guyana—South America’s only English-speaking country but still the headquarters of the 15-nation Caricom grouping—discovered a humongous amount of oil and gas offshore and by the end of this decade, could be on track to become one of the world’s largest daily producers of oil since commencing production in late 2019.
Neighboring Suriname to the east, meanwhile, has also found a tremendous amount of oil and gas just down from its maritime border with Guyana. It is getting ready to begin actual production in about five years.
Encouraged by the Guyana-Suriname finds, several other regional bloc member nations, including Barbados and Jamaica, have been ramping up efforts to attract companies to explore offshore acreages. The most determined of them seems to be Grenada, which is just north of oil and gas producers Trinidad and Venezuela.
Officials there say they are preparing to put out bids to attract some of the world’s largest exploration companies, but the 14-month new administration has said the previous government secreted away all the documents and data obtained from a 2018 exploration campaign by a little-known Russian firm, the Global Petroleum Group (GPG).
The group had told the previous administration that it had found commercial quantities of oil and gas in a well labeled Nutmeg 2, in about 400 feet of water, and that there were other promising prospects right nearby. But as the current Dickon Mitchell government gets ready to assess the island’s prospects, it has said there is nothing to work with.
“We have written transition reports from every ministry. Oil and gas was not mentioned in a single report,” the prime minister told reporters last week.
The issue of missing oil data was mentioned in last week’s throne speech by Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade, reading from documents prepared by the government. “As of today, we are yet to solve the mystery of Grenada’s offshore oil and gas reserves,” she said. “Very little records can be found anywhere within the government, and our technocrats within the ministries and departments have very little information on this matter. My government was not provided with any transition report or any files on Grenada’s legal or contractual obligations or Grenada’s progress in relation to its oil and gas reserves. This situation is untenable and completely unacceptable, and my government is committed to doing all within its power to unearth the mystery of Grenada’s oil and gas status.”
Most of Guyana’s neighbors have not attempted to hide the fact that they are encouraged by that country’s roaring economic success and development opportunities ever since oil and gas trumped traditional economic pillars sugar, bauxite, gold, and timber in the last eight years. The country is also the fastest-growing economy in the world and remains on track to maintain its number one position in the next few years.
For Grenada, which depends much on tourism and agriculture, an oil boom would be transformative, but it is unclear whether the last government wants to deny the current government the glory of having oil millions to spend in the near future. Opposition leader Keith Mitchell said authorities are being disingenuous about the whole situation because many of its high officials ought to know what to do.
“This government is being characterized by telling lies about oil and gas, and that they have no documentation,” Mitchell said. “They have enough documentation. Don’t forget there were other National Democratic Congress governments that came into office before this one and would have followed up on a number of activities, so it’s very strange, and I am saying it’s a blatant lie.”