Remarks by Ambassador Lynch at Women in Oil and Gas Guyana International Women’s Day Forum

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Women in Oil and Gas Guyana International Women’s Day Forum
March 8, 2021

Good evening, it’s an honor to speak with you today, on International Women’s Day. A warm thanks to Abbigale and the organizers for putting this event together, despite the challenges we’ve all had with this pandemic. Abby deserves a lot of credit for putting WIOGGY together, since it represents support for Guyanese women to enter the fields of energy and minerals.

I’ve often said that diversity in any economy is the key for a robust GDP. No one sector should dominate, and at the same time, no one gender should dominate. There is room for talent from everyone. Examples like Ms. Martinez should not be an exception. With that in mind, it’s important to stay on top of the opportunities that are emanating from the oil and gas sector.

In 2015, ExxonMobil made its first oil discovery, started to drill in earnest in 2019, and today boasts of discoveries in 18 of its 21 exploratory wells – just incredible.  The sheer number of oil barrel equivalents offshore – now 9 billion and still rising – is staggering. Guyana is on track to become the second or third largest oil producer in the western hemisphere over the next 20-40 years.  According to the Bank of Guyana, Guyana’s GDP grew by 43.5% in 2020, making it the fastest growing economy in the world, and is projected to expand by 20.9% in 2021.

And what does that mean? That means that Guyana is open for business.  Obviously, the biggest draw is in the oil and gas sector, particularly in exploration and services.  But there are also significant opportunities in the renewable energy, financial, construction, agriculture, and tourism sectors.  Guyana and the private sector must capitalize on this.  If Guyana can advance from being a raw material producer to exporting more value-added goods, it will achieve a necessary diversification of its economy.  This will enable it to avoid the dreaded “resource curse” that has plagued many developing countries with newly discovered natural resources.

The government’s announced investments in infrastructure will help Guyana move more rapidly along this transformational path.  But this transformation to balanced growth also requires the leadership of government and the business community in creating a transparent and level playing field for foreign investors.  Contract sanctity is essential as are investments in security to curb high crimes rates and the influence of transnational criminal organizations.  These market risks need to be addressed along with a clear procurement process.

The United States is happy to partner with Guyana to usher in these essential changes, as we have for 55 years. Such commitment is reflected in the historic visits in 2020 from the Secretary of State and an interagency group of investment agencies, to this January’s visit from the top commander at Southcom, Admiral Faller.  The United States is committed to the same things that Guyanese want – a transparent and accountable government, and prosperity and security for all Guyanese.

So as we celebrate International Women’s Day under the theme “Women on the Move, Accepting New Challenges in a Changing Economy,” I encourage you to think about your responsibilities in ushering in a new economy for Guyana.  I want you to focus on the word “move” for this conference. Because moving means you’re active. It’s the opposite of passive. You don’t grow without moving, without accepting new challenges. And if you don’t grow, you don’t improve.  The responsibility is yours to move, grow, improve – help Guyana be the best it can be.

Guyana needs you. It needs your talent, your passion, your curiosity and creativity. There is so much to do, and it takes everyone’s effort to ensure Guyana is a nation that is prosperous for all.  So let’s move everyone! Thank you very much!