GEORGETOWN, Guyana – ExxonMobil says it has discovered more than 5.5 billion barrels of oil in Guyanese waters in the Atlantic Ocean. What future does this Latin American country expect and what does this have to do with Venezuela?
Nowadays, Guyana is the second poorest country in the region. According to estimates, in the coming decades this country can become one of the world’s largest oil producers per capita. However, the existence of resources does not always correspond to a developed economy.
The small Caribbean country could be the essential piece in the scheme that the United States is setting up in the region, according to the comment made by Tamara Lajtman, a specialist at the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CELAG).
The recent history of relations between the US and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean indicates that US transnational corporations will be the major beneficiaries of this discovery.
Lajtman cites US researchers pointing out that Washington can replace Venezuelan oil from the so-called Caracas regional petro-political regime with a much more stable supplier.
The analyst explains that at the end of last year, the American Segurity Project (ASP), an organization dedicated to the study of national security problems, held an event called Guyana Building Sustainable Security.
Following the discussions at this event, a document was drawn up recommending that US policymakers establish a closer relationship with Guyana to ensure long-term sustainable security.
This implies that, as chaos continues to rise in Venezuela, a growing and more prosperous Guyana could become an axis of stability for the Caribbean Basin, Lajtman points out.
According to the Stratfor agency, some of the major US oil companies have already begun production in Guyana. However, even if Guyana’s government revenues increase, most of the country will not feel the economic benefits of oil, as jobs will be directed primarily to foreigners.
Earlier this month, the US Southern Command initiated the New Horizons military exercises in Guyana. These maneuvers are taking place precisely at the right moment, given that Guyana is at the center of regional geopolitics. There are two reasons for this, the crisis in neighboring Venezuela and the energy future of the Caribbean country.
In addition, there is a territorial dispute over Essequibo, a region with an area of about 160,000 square kilometers and whose sovereignty has been claimed by Venezuela for centuries. The US sees a threat to the oil extraction operations that are approaching the maritime border between the two countries.
In July 2018, Guyana entered the Chinese initiative of the New Silk Road, which includes investments in the plan to build new ports and roads.
The road link project is of extreme geostrategic importance, as it would reduce the transportation time to northern Brazil (China’s main trading partner in the region) with a faster route to the Panama Canal.
Guyana has long been considered as a transit country of cocaine that passes from Colombia to the US. The government has carried out anti-drug assistance programs and legislation against money laundering and terrorist financing. With the increase in oil revenues, more can be done about these problems.