Oil and gas conference… Guyana at crossroads of transformationThe United States Government is encouraging Guyana to give careful consideration to the ways it will invest the revenues that will develop from its promising oil and gas sector.Natural Resources Minister Raphael TrotmanThe admonition was given by Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy, Terry Steers-Gonzalez on Sunday evening, as he addressed stakeholders and other participants during the opening of the first oil and gas conference hosted by the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA). The event was held at the Marriott International hotel, Georgetown.Steers-Gonzalez was exploring the very prospect of the Liza oil find in Guyana’s waters and what the revenues garnered could do for the country’s economy and its citizens.“The confirmed reserves guarantee the revenue to allow it to develop industries and infrastructure and to create a broad-based economy with true value added, which means jobs and prosperity, if done right,” Steers-Gonzalez said.The US diplomat said the revenue would also mean that Guyana would have enough money to allow it to fund activities that would see it becoming even greener than it already was. He said it would also be critical to think strategically now of ways to invest the revenues that would develop diverse industries, physical infrastructure, citizen security, quality education and health services. According to him, these are areas that will create significant job numbers. He said recent estimates confirmed that offshore oil deposits may be as large as 1.6 billion recoverable barrels of oil, with additional resources yet to be quantified. Estimates, he said continue, to change; each time growing larger and with the growth of the numbers, so do the expectations of citizens here. According to him, legislation and regulations that protect Guyana’s interest and promote transparent resource management at all levels are key components to success.“The list of important legislations is vast and spans across the spectrum from a petroleum act to regulation to a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), licences and fees for the new industry and occupational health and safety standards,” the envoy said, noting that not just the Government but the people have an opportunity to define the future, which starts with a carefully calculated plan of action formed from the collaboration of all stakeholders that targets job creation, investment and long-term revenue management. Speaking on the economic prospects of the sector, the diplomat noted that overall Guyana’s economy has been doing well and was projected to continue along this path.“The view from the United States from this exciting industry for Guyana is that the Private Sector will play an integral role in sharing the responsibility of shaping the future of the company as the country continues to develop new industries and the regulatory structures that will govern them, (and) the role of citizens and stakeholders will grow in scope and importance.”He said Guyana was at the crossroads of a transformation.Meanwhile, addressing the forum, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman said Government dubbed 2016 as “the year for preparation” and 2017 “the year of implementation”.He said experts were retained and were currently assessing ExxonMobil’s and other operators’ applications for production and exploration licences.“Further, we are considering a proposal from one of the world’s leading offshore supply companies to establish a world-class base at Crab Island, Berbice, and are examining the possibility of utilising some of the available natural gas from the Liza field for energy generation as we transition to renewables.”Government is also addressing the viability of a refinery or refineries in Guyana.The conference, held under the theme, “The initiation of transformative industry, sought to improve knowledge and understanding of the opportunities that the oil and gas sector holds for Guyana’s economy.