Guyana Situation Report for November 6, 2020: Forces of Growth

Guyana breathed a sigh of relief in October, as the long-feared spike in COVID-19 cases appears to have peaked and the new PPP government settled in without further partisan acrimony.

The easing of those stresses was necessary, since the pressures and promises of First Oil are forcing irresistible change on the country.

Guyana’s public and private security apparatus now faces an unprecedented challenge of mitigating the risks associated with sharp growth and social change, all within the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collaborative risk awareness, environmental understanding, and proactive planning in local community engagement programs are needed to support the local populace and business community integral to the development of this rapidly evolving territory.

International Attention

Despite the summer’s gyrations in oil prices, petrochemical investment continues to flow into Guyana. The volumes are simply too great, and extraction still quite profitable.

To date, the 18 oil discoveries over four years of exploration in Exxon’s Stabroek Block are estimated at holding over 8 billion barrels of oil reserves. Exxon’s activities are expected to drive 39% GDP growth in 2020, as highlighted in the Inter-American Development Bank’s Caribbean Region Quarterly Bulletin.

The last two month witnessed positive developments in addressing the country’s security risk profile. A visit from U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the 18th September addressed a Shipriding Agreement between the U.S and Guyana. A joint effort from CARICOM and the British High Commission realized support for Guyana’s prison service in their efforts to battle COVID-19. The Government of Guyana and Exxon signed an agreement on 2nd October which cleared the path for the development of the Payara oil field. Regional leaders will be meeting at the Guyana headquartered CARICOM Secretariat on the 29th October to continue their collective  approach to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air Travel

Expats wishing to do business in Guyana no longer need to talk their way onto one of Exxon’s charter flights.

After extensive planning and coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority, local airports, and regional carriers, the Irfan Ali Administration announced the reopening of commercial flights into Guyana.

Surinam Airways, Transguyana Airways,  Eastern Airlines and Caribbean Airlines then scheduled commercial flights in and out of Guyana.

  • Surinam Airways flights will take place between Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and Miami (MIA).
  • Caribbean Airlines has announced a new route from Ogle Airport (OGL) to Barbados (GAIA), and has resumed its flights from CJIA to JFK in New York.
  • Eastern Airlines are currently operating out of CJIA with flights between Guyana and New York and Guyana and Miami.
  • JetBlue have announced that they plan to schedule flights between CJIA and JFK from December 11th.

Ground Transportation Danger

With the highest road accident rate in the Caribbean and miserable ambulance response, it’s imperative that business travelers adhere to the guidelines highlighted in our Driving in Guyana report.

Statistics recently released from the Guyana Police Force showed that the road traffic accident rate had risen 42% year-over-year, with a 37% increase in fatalities. There exists a high concentration of accidents occurring on the main access roads: the East Coast Demerara Public Road and East Bank Highway, which service Ogle Airport and Cheddi Jagan International Airport respectively.

According to news reports, the  statistics indicated that most accidents occurred on weekend evening, with many of the fatal accidents being attributed to alcohol consumption by the drivers.

A recent press release by the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Juan Edghill, announced plans to tackle the high accident rate as a matter of urgency under a National Road Safety Campaign initiated in October and to be developed with local stakeholders by the year’s end.

To support your in-country road safety initiatives, Secure Pointe’s Operations Director Tony Eager will be in country to conduct our Driver Training Program beginning in November.

Action Outside the Energy Sector

There has been a significant rise in interest from the international business community to participate in the Guyanese economic boom.

29 oil trading companies expressed their interest in supporting the Ministry of Natural Resource’s tender to market the Government’s allocation of crude oil from the Liza Destiny FPSO over the next year.

The Government’s decision to liberalize the telecoms sector saw an influx of companies expressing their interest to participate in the Guyanese market.

Recent requests for proposals in both the power generation and road infrastructure projects saw a combined total of more than 100 submissions from international companies. In addition, the formation of a Government task force to assess the Gas to Shore project is expected to attract further attention from international businesses.

The extractive industry has seen several key developments in the mining sector. Omai Gold Mines Limited announced their return to Guyana operations located in the Potaro mining district of Poeroon-Supernaan, Region 2. Troy Resources, presently one of only two large-scale gold mining operations in country, recently announced a world class discovery at its Karouni mining site.

Historical nefarious activity orientated around gold smuggling in Guyana have prevented the sector realizing its full potential. Beyond that, continued friction with Venezuela, the porous hinterland border with Surinam, and the threat to Guyanese miners from foreign illegal mining operations in-country continue to concern both domestic and international interests.

COVID-19

With a population equivalent to less than 2% of that of the entire Caribbean, Guyana has nearly  10% of the current confirmed COVID cases in the region. While curfew restrictions remain in place in country, now stipulating that persons be at home between the hours of 10:30pm to 4am, it is apparent that the Ministry of Health is still challenged to curtail the virus spread.

Nonetheless, the number of new cases in October is less than that of September. This counts as good news, but our collective experience in the 2020 pandemic should keep us all from making firm predictions about the pace of infections.

Guyana’s count of COVID infections surpassed 4,000 on the 26th October. Of the confirmed cases, only 904 are active, and more than 18,500 tests have been conducted to date. The present number of fatalities attributed to COVID-19 is 130.

Efforts are underway to explore app-based contact tracing, which is being supported by the Canadian Government and the resumption of testing of asymptomatic persons.

It is hoped that such initiatives will prompt Guyana to join the existing CARICOM bubble initiative, presently spearheaded by Barbados and nine other Eastern Caribbean nations.

 

Photo credit: Transguyana Airways

 

 

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