Guyana to seek investors to develop a 30,000bpd oil refinery

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Having already received significant interest from private entities regarding the establishment of an oil refinery in the country, the Guyana Government plans to soon launch Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the setting up of such a facility on local shores.

“We’re looking at the launch of an Expression of Interest for a 30,000-barrel refinery. This Expression of Interest will be launched soon,” President Dr Irfaan Ali announced on Tuesday during an event at the Office of the President.

The Ali-led government has indicated its willingness to support the establishment of a small refinery, which Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has said can make a huge difference in the country’s energy security.

This point was emphasised by Chief Investment Officer Dr Peter Ramsaroop who noted that the specifics of the project will become available when the EOIs are submitted by potential investors.

“If you just study what is happening in the world today with Ukraine and the war and Russia and how fuel prices have gone up, I think it’s very important for Guyana to look at how it can sustain itself long-term and I think the refinery is just one more step in us looking at our needs in the near future,” he explained.

“The EOI will most likely request companies to send in their requirements, what do they need, what they believe the numbers should be and then government will make that decision on what we would be willing to licence for a refinery,” Dr Ramsaroop added.

Noting that there is no fixed location in mind for the refinery, the Go-Invest CEO said “I think the administration is looking at areas like Berbice.” He noted too that the refinery will most likely be a modular one.

It was reported in August of this year that a US$200 million oil refinery and integrated petrochemical manufacturing complex, which will employ 750 persons during its construction and 300 permanent workers, is being planned by a United States (US) investor, Chemtech Limited, for the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).

According to Chemtech in its project summary, they have already received no-objection letters from the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) and the Region Four Regional Democratic Council (RDC) for the project which has a proposed site on 492 acres of land at Plantation York.

The company had detailed that the oil refinery will take between 24 and 30 months to construct, while the integrated complex will take between 18 and 24. The project, it assured, would not need natural gas but would utilise products already made from natural gas, such as methanol and urea.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had previously explained that the government favours the establishment of a small refinery, over a much larger operation, to process the country’s crude for local consumption in order to ensure the country’s energy security in the future.

“Having a small refinery here could make a big difference for energy security because if we have, for example, hurricanes or any other disaster [in the region] and we can’t get our supply of gas or kerosene or anything else, then having a local refinery – a small one – can make a big difference for national energy security,” the Vice President had posited during a press conference in August.

Meanwhile, Guyana has been working aggressively towards become a self-sufficient State, with strong economies outside of oil and gas.

The impacts of the Russia/Ukraine war on the global supply chain have also prompted the country to explore the cultivation of wheat for the first time – a trial which has so far proven successful.

The first trial was done on a small scale at the Burma Rice Research Station in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), followed by an open field trial at Paramakatoi in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).

Moreover, President Ali said that as his government pushes to build a diversified economy, more EOIs will be launched.

The Go-Invest Head indicated that some of these will be focused on eco-tourism. “We’re looking for large developers to look at the high-end eco-tourism. [The President] announced the joint product between Barbados and Guyana: The Sand, The Beach, and The Jungle. We have British Airways flying now to Guyana next year, will bring a whole new set of investors and visitors to Guyana, so we have to look at that.”

Dr Ramsaroop also spoke about opportunities in the areas of sports and entertainment. “We may see some interest in that from many new investors.”

President Ali has said his government intends to develop Guyana as a premier destination for sports tourism, with the country being able to attract immense international participation in sectors such as horse-racing and motor racing. Efforts are also being made for Guyana to become a venue for events organised by the World Boxing Council.