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Guyana ready to formalise US energy security pact; Congressional House Ways & Means Committee says outcompeting China is priority

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 March 2023, 6:00 by Denis Chabrol

The delegation of the US House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting with President Irfaan Ali and his delegation.

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali on Friday assured the United States that this South American nation is ready to guarantee America’s energy security, as the Congressional House Ways and Means Committee said its visit here was aimed at laying the groundwork to displace China as a preferred business partner in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I even asked the Congressional delegation to ensure that Guyana and the US can advance the strategic partnership formally on energy security for the United States and Guyana and climate security and on food security,” he said. Stemming from the 2022 Summit of the Americas, Guyana has been identified as a major US partner in those three areas. He noted that Guyana is an” important part of the energy mix in this region and the world.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Jason Smith issued a statement following his delegation’s meeting with President Ali and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, making it clear that the US’ aim is to  lead the way in developing, extracting, and selling Guyanese oil and that this increasing production has the potential to greatly benefit both the US and Guyana, and help thwart China’s attempts to achieve energy dominance. “China also is participating in Guyana’s oil production. America must be committed to outcompeting China around the world while strengthening key American supply chains, increasing U.S. production of affordable energy resources, and improving partnerships with allies in the Western Hemisphere and beyond. Our delegation’s meetings have shown how U.S. bilateral relationships in the region benefit American workers and provide a much-needed alternative to countries that might otherwise orient their economies toward China,” he said in a statement.

In their meetings with the Congressional delegation, the Guyana g0vernment and the opposition discussed relations with China and Venezuela. Chinese companies have over the decades won major infrastructural contracts and provided multimillion dollar loans.  Recently, the US joint venture, CH4/LINDSAYCA won a US$759 million contract to build a natural gas-fired power plant and a natural gas liquids plant at Wales, West Bank Demerara.

On the subject of climate change, President Ali offered to provide “global” leadership in the area of climate services by teaming up with the US at the next global climate summit, Conference of the Parties. “We want the US to be a part of this, we want the US to be a strategic partner with us on the environment because we understand the importance of this relationship,” he said.

Describing the US as a “trusted partner”, he gave an unequivocal undertaking to the the members of the Congressional House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy Committee that Guyana is open to more American investors. “Guyana is and will continue to be an important strategic partner of the United States and the opportunities here are open to all and open to the United States and your private sector and we want to see greater participation from the US private sector and the US here in Guyana. There is no second-guessing this agenda. This is a clear strategy of the government,” Dr Ali said.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch lauded the Guyana government for taking steps to modernise the country and make doing business easier. “We applaud the government of Guyana for the strides it has taken to make this country so attractive to investors. They have been excellent partners in energy, in agri-business and in security. They are taking bold leaps to transform the financial, education, health and tourism sectors ” she said. Ms Lynch said the Guyana government “clearly wants” to leverage the opportunities as evidenced by infrastructural developments and so the US is ready to assist.

Amid persistent calls in some quarters for the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA)  with the ExxonMobil-led consortium to be amended to give Guyana a greater share of the oil wealth because significantly more hydrocarbons have been discovered, the American envoy noted that both the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration and the then government of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) have not taken steps to amend that accord. “Since first oil, Guyana’s political leaders have honoured contractual commitments and continue to do so. This signals the importance of the sanctity of contracts which is foundational to any economy and, in particular Guyana, as it continues to transform at a rapid pace,” she said.

The delegation comprised Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Jason Smith and other members Terri Sewell, Carol Miller, Michelle Fischbach,  Beth Van Duyne, Mike Carey as well as Kelly Armstrong of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.