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Guyana govt officially pours cold water on building oil refinery

Pedro Haas delivering the results of a desktop feasibility of building an oil refinery in Guyana.

The Guyana government on Wednesday officially stated for the first time since a feasibility study was conducted that it would not build a US$5 billion oil refinery, but said it would not oppose the private sector risking the investment.

Addressing a panel discussion on energy at the Guyana Business Summit, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman said government could not afford to drill down such a large amount of cash on such a facility.

“Government has concluded that it, as a government, cannot spend five billion dollars on an oil refinery but we are not in any way dissuading the private sector from taking up the challenge,” he told the summit which is being held in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

He noted that there is talk about building a much smaller modular oil refinery in Region 10 “and we are prepared to give favourable consideration that can meet good standards and guidelines”.

Back in May, 2017 when the findings of a desktop feasibility study that was conducted by Director of Advisory Services at the New York-based Hartree , Pedro Haas, were revealed, the Minister had said that the construction of an oil refinery to process 100,000 barrels per day would have been a political decision to generate and maintain jobs.

Guyana domestic fossil fuel consumption is estimated at 15,000 barrels per day.

Meanwhile, Trotman said government was opened to giving up some of its powers in the proposed Petroleum Commission whose Bill is currently before a parliamentary select committee for consideration by stakeholders. “When we resume our work, we are open to all reasonable ideas. We are open to the dilution and the diminution of powers away from government and  we are open to greater inclusivity om that regard so rest assured that this is not something that is not under consideration and we welcome your support,”  he said.

Consultations on a National Local Content Policy, he said, were continuing with the assistance of Trinidad and Tobago expert, Anthony Paul.

Guyana’s developing oil and gas sector is receiving support from the United States, Canada, The Commonwealth and the Inter-American Development Bank.