Transforming Guyana Episode X: “Unlocking the Potential of Guyana’s Oil and Gas Economy

Unlocking the Potential of Guyana’s Oil and Gas Economy: Balancing Energy Development and Environmental Stewardship

Media Advisory

Please see the white paper here: Intersection of Energy_Environment in Guyana_Dr_Ulric_Trotz

Executive Summary: In 2015, significant oil and gas reserves were discovered in Guyana, transforming the country into a major fossil fuel producer. Before this discovery, Guyana, like other vulnerable developing countries in the Caribbean basin, had been advocating for international attention to their exposure to emerging climate risks and for the adoption of policies and provision of necessary support for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

These efforts led to a global agreement under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C, among other objectives. In keeping with its obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Guyana developed a Low Carbon Development Strategy and a Climate Resilient Strategy and Action Plan that aim to achieve zero carbon status and climate resiliency in line with the Paris Agreement. However, the discovery of substantial oil and gas resources in Guyana now places the country in a seemingly contradictive position as both a current victim of climate change and an actor that exacerbates the problem.

To reconcile these roles, two factors need to be considered. Firstly, Guyana lacks the resources to build climate resiliency and transition to an affordable and sustainable energy system. Secondly, as the world transitions to net zero, Guyana has the opportunity to use its newfound wealth to implement both mitigation and adaptation strategies. The region can address regional energy and food security, internalize supply chains, and utilize the resources of Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago to facilitate progress in meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement. Given the low carbon intensity of Guyana’s oil and gas resources and the feasibility of production compared to global producers, there is an opportunity for Guyana to emerge as a major supplier of fossil fuels during the global transition to net zero. However, Guyana must ensure that its production of oil and gas meets the highest available environmental standards and that the resources accruing are used to facilitate the transition to net zero and to build climate resilience.


Ulric Trotz
Ulric Trotz, (fmr) Science Adviser, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Belize


Anthony Bryan
Anthony Bryan, Co-Chair and Fellow, CPC & Professor and Senior Fellow, Institute of International Relations, UWI
Thomas Singh
Thomas Singh, Director of the GREEN Institute, & Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Economics, University of Guyana

Relevant Quotes

Relevant Quotations:

  • Dr. Ulric Trotz:
    • “The basic point I wanted to make was that dealing with this issue of being an oil and gas producer, while at the same time being vulnerable to climate change is the fact that we need to look at how the resources derived from oil and gas are utilized for the benefit of Guyanese people.”
  • “If you look at the implementation of the LCDS, there’s been a lot of activity on the zero-carbon aspirations with the gas-to-shore project, Amaila Falls, the renewable energy systems for the interior, et cetera, we’ve been addressing the mitigation aspect of the LCDS and it’s very interesting, whereas over the years in the international community we have been trumpeting adaptation, adaptation, adaptation.”
  • “Our position is we are in a world that is committed to climate change and we as small developing countries whose carbon footprint is very minimal, we need to build climate resilience.”
  • “Climate finance has been a major stumbling block in the global discussions, and very recently that it was more or less estimated that $100 billion is a drop in the ocean on what we really need to significantly address [the problem].”
  • Dr. Anthony Bryan:
    • “Environmentalist have also voiced concerns about Guyana joining the oil and gas industry while the world transitions away from fossil fuels. But I think this has been answered by Guyana’s president where he says, ‘it aims to use the oil windfall to diversify the economy, improve access to social services,  and promote investment in non-oil sectors including agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing’ and I think that is the position that the oil produces in the region.”
  • “Guyana is in a splendid position to really dictate a little bit about what the international global climate agenda should be. It has the resources, it has the influence, it has the attention of the world, so this is a historical opportunity to deliver both on climate mitigation and development goals.”
  • “You make progress at the pace necessary to deliver on global and development goals. It requires investment and I think developing countries such as ours, certainly Guyana, should ask developed countries for measures to rebuild trusts of confidence and international cooperations.”
  • Dr. Thomas Singh:
    • “We need in Guyana and probably in the Caribbean to learn to use incentives. We need to learn incentives on the whole, but when it comes to incentives, we sort of don’t understand the power of well-designed incentives. For example, natural gas-associated gas as a transition fuel, what if we decided to shorten the horizon for the extraction of this associated gas and put a limit, so it just doesn’t simply run with the oil.”
  • Dr. David Lewis:
    • “With this resource boom that Guyana has because of oil and gas, the question is how can Guyana use these rapidly and exponentially to develop the local, but also the foreign skills capability to handle this at the level of a world-class economy, that the energy sector is “imposing” on Guyana? Because it is a world-class best practice benchmark that’s taking place.”
  • “There is a pressing need that if we’re going to get this moving, the skills base needs to be advanced and I think the paper does a great contribution in terms of emphasizing the need for that institutional and human capacity, and emphasis is made, and it’s been discussed the role of the EPA and some of the government agencies. I would say that we also need to go beyond that, private sector capabilities and civil society capabilities because where we have seen examples of successfully managing the oil and gas resource growth, we also see the successful development of institutionality at the government, the private sector and at the civil society level.”


David Lewis
David Lewis, Vice President, Manchester Trade Ltd. Inc. & Co-Chair, Caribbean Policy Consortium

Terrence Blackman
Terrence Blackman, PhD, Founder & CEO, Guyana Business Journal

Latest Webinars