Desmond Brown writes for the Inter Press Service about the complications of Guyana's newly-discovered offshore oil, both economic and environmental. What will happen to Guyana's low-carbon economic strategy if it drills?
The recent discovery of large volumes of oil offshore of Guyana could prove to be a major headache for the country, as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and other Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) members press for keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels as provided for in the historic Paris Climate Agreement.
Exxon Mobil recently announced the successful drilling of a deep-water exploration well that may soon confirm that the seafloor beneath Guyana’s coastal waters contains one of the richest oil and natural gas discoveries in decades.
Experts now estimate that one of its offshore fields alone, known as Liza, could contain 1.4 billion barrels of oil and mixed natural gas.
But in the face of a changing climate fueled by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Dr. Al Binger, interim executive director of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREE), said Guyana should not get too excited about the discovery.
“Guyana finds themselves inside AOSIS, the group that is fighting to keep temperatures under 1.5 degrees C, and now they are going to want to sell carbon which is going to get burned. I think they are going to have a lot of head-scratching to figure out ‘is this a blessing or is this a curse?’” Binger told IPS.