‘Stop seeing oil as a curse’

‘Stop seeing oil as a curse’

Attorney Nigel Hughes has called on Guyanese to change the context in which they view oil and gas whereby the resource is painted as a “curse” or unmanageable and, instead, position themselves to benefit.

He made the call on Tuesday at the Theatre Guild during a presentation at the Youth and Oil Association’s (YOAs) inaugural symposium themed: ‘Empowering our Future, Developing our Resources, Strengthening National Policies’

Hughes stated that this context is not only “insulting” but it underestimates Guyanese with a very broad brush. “It is as if the people, collectively, who happen to be Guyanese at this particular point in time in the history of our country, we are incapable of managing our resources. I’m afraid I do not subscribe to that view,” he told an audience of youths.
He stated that while the country has made its mistakes in the past and has not delivered the “most sterling” performance post-independence, Guyana has the ability to move forward on better footing. However, in improving, he noted that Guyanese must first be willing to acknowledge that there is a problem.

“As Guyanese we need to say: I am a citizen and we have failed to deliver our full potential in the last 50 years. The good thing about that is that it doesn’t matter which political party, collectively, we have been unable to take advantage of the good fortune that we’ve got,” he began.

“The question we should really be asking ourselves as Guyanese is not whether we’ve got the best contract; whether or not Exxon is the best partner to have; whether or not next week we’re going to have local content, [but] the real question we should be asking ourselves is whether we have it in ourselves to take advantage of the opportunity we have.”
Hughes said that he is very confident and hopeful about the country’s future and wants to empower young people to go beyond what their foreparents have achieved.

He highlighted that despite the criticisms from some, ExxonMobil remains the world’s top company in the oil and gas industry. He also pointed to cases in Guyana’s history of the mismanagement of its resources which shows that citizens have been mentally positioned to attack anything that they’re skeptical about due to negative experiences.
To ensure that Guyana’s oil and gas is not squandered, he pointed out that vision, leadership and governance are the three most important pillars needed.

Speaking to the youths, he stated: “Do not let us mistake good fortune as our ability to be able to manage the good fortune. We have to develop the ability to manage the good fortune and despite what all your parents and grandparents may say to you, you are the people that[sic] have to develop that ability.”

With no history in oil and gas and a not-so-successful history in managing its resources, Hughes pointed out that Guyana produces the best rum consistently for the last 10-15 years which speaks to potential.

“We need to look at what are the key aspects of what we have done right and done successfully that we can replicate and use,” he said.

The Attorney told the audience that all the information they need on how they can benefit from oil is at their fingertips and several sectors such as the service, manufacturing and engineering sectors, will be in demand.

While development will not happen instantaneously, he urged the young people to ensure that they position themselves to benefit from this through training, certification and the establishing of their own businesses.

Another guest speaker, a former President for Worldwide Exploration and New Ventures for Chevron/Texaco Inc. and a Vice President of Chevron/Texaco, Dr. Bruce Applebaum, told the audience that based on his experience in geoscience and the oil industry, Guyanese can be confident that its rapid development is sure.

“You’ve got a tiger by the tail. There is no way that the initial phase of exploration in this basin is over. You have many discoveries to look forward to; the play is going to be expanded in Guyana…the future is Guyana’s for the asking,” he said.

Applebaum encouraged the youths to expose themselves to the array of opportunities available in upstream, mid-stream and downstream production.

Founder of YOA, Dennon Lewis, stated that his association believes in formal and informal education as the way to collective national development which is needed as young Guyanese head into a future of oil.

He stated that what happens next is based on the decisions taken today and encouraged the youths present to use the information learnt to turn their mindsets to how they can benefit.

During the symposium, several persons asked questions which were all answered by the guest speakers.

The YOA is a non-governmental, nonprofit organisation with the main aim being to empower young entrepreneurs and professionals to take advantage of the direct and indirect opportunities from the oil and gas sector.


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