Friends & RPCVs of Guyana

Industries in Guyana

Guyana is gifted with fertile lands for agriculture, massive tropical forests, valuable minerals, and natural resources.

Traditionally, agriculture has been one of the country’s main economic activities. As a low-lying coastal plain, major crops include rice, sugar, coffee, cocoa, coconuts, edible oils, fruit, vegetables, and tobacco. Although the agricultural output has been on the decline in recent years, it still contributes to nearly 24% of the GDP.

Guyana’s economy is also heavily reliant on forestry and mining. With forests covering nearly 79% of the total landmass, only a quarter of that is used to access timber, mainly in the northeast region. Green heart timber, used for docks and harbors, is a well-known wood from Guyana.

Gold is a billion dollar export for Guyana, even though it’s a mostly small-scale operation with little government regulation, bringing its own set of challenges. There are some mining companies but largely it is a freelance business, with illegal gold miners called “pork knockers” occupying the interior. The bauxite sector, with the city of Linden ushering in commercial mining over 100 years ago, remains a significant part of the economy despite the high cost of shipping.

Food and Beverage

Guyana produces many of its food and beverage items, which saves the cost of importing them. Products like stock feed, refined sugar, rum, and beer are produced both domestically and by foreign enterprises. In 1989, the government utilized an economic policy to privatize many food and beverages company like Demerara Distillers Limited. The company produces rum and other alcoholic drinks. It became the second largest producer of rum after Bacardi. According to the Financial Times, it’s also Britain’s leading supplier of bulk rum, which is exported under different brand names.

Other leading companies involved in the food and beverages industry include Banks DIH, which is a producer of alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and other food products. It also operates many local bars and restaurants. Competitions include ANSA McAl and National Milling Company of Guyana. The latter has the reputation of being the oldest commercial flour mill in the country and started operations in 1969.

Travel and Tourism

The natural and unspoiled beauty of Guyana has made it attractive tourism destination in the region. The presence of natural attractions like savannahs, mountains, vast rainforests, rivers, and waterfalls, along with the abundant wildlife, flora, and fauna makes Guyana a unique travel destination for ecotourism.

The country registers a high number of foreign tourists, who contributed US $ 98.7 million to the Guyanese economy in 2012. It’s becoming an alternative spot for the Caribbean destinations with unique adventure and activities like yachting, bird watching, and adventure fishing. The government and private sector companies took the initiative to expand the sector through the opening of Tourism Studies in University of Guyana and the foundation of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA). The international and domestic airports were expanded out of which airline companies like Trans Guyana Airways and Roraima Airways operate.

For handling the private initiatives, the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana was established and acts as an umbrella organization for tourism. One of the leading tour operators in the country is Evergreen Adventures, founded in 1996. It conducts tours to many properties it owns like the Timberhead Rainforest Resort, Baganara Island Resort, Rock View Lodge, and others. It also owns and operates transport services like Trans Guyana Airways Ltd. Other notable names in the tourism industry include the likes of Edwards and Company, located in Georgetown.

The transportation sector has also seen a surge thanks to rising levels of tourism. With no threats and a stable economy, Guyana is attracting more people than ever before. The industry is witnessing a growth of more than 5% each year.

Oil and Gas

Guyana has yet to begin its journey in the field of oil and gas industries. But the moment is ripe, and arrangements have already been made to start oil production by 2021. When the Liza Oil Fields were discovered by Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, Guyana added a new industry to its portfolio.

The development plans for the oil production was submitted to the Guyana Ministry of Natural Resources, and it includes operations like drilling, developing of flowline systems, and other activities. The contracts were awarded to SBM Offshore for the purpose of introducing production, storage, and offloading.

The Liza Oil Fields reportedly hold more than 1 billion barrels of oil and are situated in the Stabroek block some 120 miles offshore from Guyana. The Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited has a 45% interest the project while 25% is held by CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited and 30% by Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd.

The discovery of oil in Guyana provides an incredible economic opportunity for the country though there are some limitations that may cap growth. For example, while the Liza Oil Field will produce more oil than other regions in the Caribbean, we may not see related industries, like natural gas production, develop in the region.

Guyana also lacks a refinery, though one may be built or oil may be refined in neighboring Trinidad.

The Prospects of the Oil Industry

The Liza oil project is estimated to have a lifetime of 20 years, which make the investment for building a refinery unprofitable. The country will be able to earn its share of revenue only from the profits of sharing the oil or gas as per the agreement with Guyana’s American counterpart. The industry may be able to give a short-term growth to the economy rather than create a long-term effect unless new oil fields are discovered, and ancillary industries develop.

However, the discovery has brought new investors to Guyana, since oil is one of the most profitable fields. The New York Times states that Guyana could become one of the top global oil producers in a few years. As many as 1.4 million barrels of oil could exist in Guyana making this discovery profitable for many investors.