Tuesday, June 12, 2018 | Cara Lodge, Georgetown
Above the sometimes deafening din of disaffection and doom we are gathered to celebrate the attainment of another milestone in our odyssey towards our ordained appointment with destiny – one that is monumental not so much because it marks past events, but rather because of what it portends for the future. The arrival of the Noble Bob Douglas in March of this year, to carry out the drilling of the 17 production wells, was the veritable starter’s signal that the march towards the unveiling of our destiny had entered a new, unprecedented and exciting phase.
We have now come to a plateau before we make the final ascent to the summit – we have come also closer to that destiny that our founding fathers and mothers heralded at our independence.
The Liza Destiny, the replica of which is majestically displayed here, with the colours of our flag proudly emblazoned on its bow and stern represents more than just a ship or FPSO. It stands as a strong and proud symbol of the hope and destiny of every Guyanese both here and in the Diaspora.
The Oxford dictionary defines “destiny” as:
“what will happen or has happened to a person or thing thought of as determined in advance by fate or the hidden power believed to control this; fate” The operative and critical words here are “hidden power” and “fate”.
The Liza Destiny is currently in the Keppel Shipyard, interestingly, it is a shipyard in Singapore, and I’m advised, but not sure I can verify, or want to believe, that it is within a stone’s throw from Sentosa Island where the historic summit took place yesterday. Ironically, Singapore and Guyana have often both been compared and contrasted; both gained independence around the same time; both had similar per capita GDPs at the time of independence in the mid 1960’s; both had institutional systems that predicted glorious futures. One soared and one has struggled to take flight. We have a second chance, a jubilee opportunity I believe, to get it right.
Guyana has waited 50 plus years to remove the negative labels such as “third world” “backward” under-developed” and “developing”. With the blessings that have been revealed, and are within our grasp, we purpose to develop a modern, peaceful and cohesive state. One in which every man, woman and child, without exception, reservation, and/or discrimination of any kind, is able to enjoy the full and equal benefits of the bounty we are about to be bestowed.
The discovery of vast amounts of petroleum in May 2015, then Esso Guyana with the erstwhile Jeff Simmons, and done so by ExxonMobil on the eve of the election of H.E. David Granger as President, is perhaps serendipitous, but certainly divinely ordained. As with every major event in the shaping of a nation’s development and history, one that is truly epoch-making, there is always going to be a group that pulls while another pushes. This phenomenon we recognise as the inter-play between dialectic forces working and chaffing at each other as they are naturally expected to do. Quite paradoxically, this process invariably produces a wonderful result. We respect the right of persons to disagree with our programmes and so tonight we celebrate being mindful and respectful of the fact that there are those who have a contrary view about this development.
Those of us here tonight are the purveyors of hope and happiness and it is worth restating that ExxonMobil, a company that has been in Guyana since 1999, has the same or very similar contractual terms as does Anadarko, CGX, Repsol, Ratio, Eco Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic, to name a few. In that regard they will enjoy the same rights and obligations as every other company that has been contracted to explore and develop our hydrocarbons. That they were the first to find a large deposit should not redefine their contractual terms or place them in any position lesser than that enjoyed prior to the discovery. For Government to do otherwise is just not how responsible and well organised and governed states function.
I conclude by saying that it gives me great pleasure to officially recognise this symbolic gathering as the official start of the countdown towards ‘first oil’. Every day hereafter will represent and mark an indelible step towards our appointment with destiny.
We thank God and pray His blessings upon this project, for the workmen and women engaged and soon to be engaged, for the venture-partners ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOCNexen, the President, people and dear land of Guyana.
I now move a toast to the successful development ahead and to a successful partnership that together enables first oil.