Perhaps everything would be easier if people could actually see the oil. If the drilling platforms, the supply boats and the gigantic specialized vessels used to clean and store the oil were anchored just offshore and not way beyond the horizon. Then, perhaps people would better understand the great lengths that oil companies go to to get at the oil. And better understand just how wealthy the stuff can make you.
The oilfield that ExxonMobil discovered five years ago is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) off the coast of Guyana, which used to be called British Guyana back before anyone was thinking about oil. The result is that the fishermen who sit smoking and chatting on the cement wall built to protect the land from the ocean can see nothing at all from their vantage point. Frigate birds soar lazily through the heat while bright red ibises fly above the mangroves. Everything looks as it always has, but soon, it will all change. That is the hope harbored by many, and the fear felt by some.
The oil off the coast of Guyana is of the highly coveted light sweet crude variety, and it is easily accessible. Some say that by the middle of this decade, Guyana could already be pumping more oil out of the earth per capita than even Kuwait. For the current year, the government in Georgetown issued a pre-corona forecast of oil revenues in the neighborhood of $300 million. The U.S. ambassador to the country said that Guyana could become the “richest country in the hemisphere and potentially the richest country in the world.”