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MOU good for T&T, Guyana—analysts

Published: 
Friday, September 21, 2018
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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, right and Guyana President David Granger address the media after the signing of the MoU on Wednesday in Guyana. Photo by:OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

Local analysts are saying that the Memorandum of Understanding T&T and Guyana signed on Wednesday presents beneficial opportunities to both countries, with Guyana benefitting from this country’s expertise in the oil and gas sectors and T&T in a position to make deals with Guyana to import oil and gas down the road.

But a former Guyanese minister is sceptical, suggesting that the deal may have been opportunistic and is demanding answers from the Prime Minister on a number of issues.

Speaking to the T&T Guardian yesterday analysts Indeera Sageewan-Alli and Winford James both agreed it is a good arrangement and outlines an intent on the part of both parties for cooperation to happen.

James said the MOU “potentially provides T&T with the opportunity to sell its considerable expertise and experience on energy and energy-related matters (via, e.g., consultancies, transfer of technologies), to make deals with Guyana on (cheaper) importation of oil and gas from that country down the road and to make use of unused capacity re the refinement of oil.”

Sageewan-Alli said entering into this kind of agreement with Guyana was extremely useful.

“The proximity between Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, the extent to which Trinidad has experience in the hydrocarbon sector, given what is happening with our own sector in terms of our ability to sustain it, does definitely mean that Trinidad and Tobago has to be looking outside if we want to continue to deepen and expand our sector,” Sageewan-Alli said.

But she said the success of the MOU depends on “how it rolls out into actual projects, actual opportunities for cooperation, where we could actually see personnel employed in Guyana productively, given the expansion and the development of the Guyana industry.”

Already, she said there are voices in Guyana which have said that T&T did not treat Guyana very well and “therefore we don’t think that you are necessarily our best ally.”

One such voice is former minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud who, in an open letter to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley posted on his Facebook page, pointed to what he described as the PM’s “newly birthed excitement to visit Guyana and to partake in our oil and prosperity.”

Persaud said as someone who still believes in the potential of the Caricom project, it was “always comforting when we can identify strengths in each other and develop synergistic arrangements for mutual benefits.” It is, he said, a position which Guyana has pursued “whole-heartedly and enthusiastically” since the dawn of the regional integration movement.

Describing Guyana as the “land of the next regional energy giant,” he listed seven questions the people of Guyana have been seeking answers to. These included whether this T&T is committed to reducing the massive trade deficit between Guyana and T&T and when non-tariff barriers which prevent the entry of Guyana’s agricultural products from entering the T&T market will be lifted.

Persaud said there is a view that the T&T model of managing oil and gas wealth has proven to be one of the “less inspiring ones across the globe and a model Guyana should not adopt in full.”

James said this viewpoint is “ok once it does not cloud understanding of political and economic realities, pragmatics and imperatives.”

He said the conversation in Guyana “needs to weigh moral implications against pragmatic economic decisions.”

He said nothing in T&T’s position on the Petrotrin refinery “weakens its hand where advising Guyana is concerned. It’s up to Guyana to evaluate whatever the advice in its own interest.”

Sageewan-Alli said there are a lot of advantages for both parties in the arrangement.

“There is for example talk of the establishment of a refinery, a small refinery. If that is happening, certainly Trinidad and Tobago has the expertise.”

Addressing the question head-on in Guyana on Wednesday, Rowley said T&T had done well in the hydrocarbon sector, which had allowed development in every sector of the country.

“All I can say to Guyana is to understand that you have a friend in Trinidad and Tobago that have a little bit of experience in this and a hundred years may be of some benefit to you.”

Rowley made it clear that T&T believes “what is good for Trinidad and Tobago in this business is also good for Guyana.”

Guyana President David Granger also responded to critics saying “Trinidad is bringing years of experience in production, in marketing oil and gas, in dealing with multi-national corporations. The MOU is a means of benefitting from Trinidad’s advice so the fears that there is some giveaway are completely unjustified.”

Granger described the MOU as a “win-win situation for both of us and the Caribbean Community, it is a significant step in making the community stronger.”

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