“CARICOM must actively explore natural gas resources to meet the region’s growing energy demands” — Irfaan Ali

Given the high cost of climate change, President Irfaan Ali said the region must take tangible actions to secure its energy future.

Guyana’s Head of State urged regional governments to lead in understanding and implementing the necessary structure. In Port of Spain, he told the Trinidad and Tobago Energy Conference 2023 that the region must survive.

The President raised tough questions and underlined that while renewable energy should be the major focus, as a region, we need to be practical in addressing energy demands and ramifications.

“We in CARICOM all have lofty renewable energy targets but the reality is that the energy demands in our countries continue to rise, and our energy systems are being challenged to meet our growing population centres and appetite for energy services.”

The President noted the region’s energy needs and the billions of US dollars needed to meet “the most fundamental of aims”.

Thus, fossil fuel and natural gas have a bright future in this region.

He reiterated that every country with natural gas potential should be permitted to fully explore it for energy security.

“Here in Trinidad and Tobago that opportunity exists and that opportunity should be allowed to blossom for the benefit of the people of this region and the globe.”

He emphasized that rising energy prices cause inflation in underdeveloped and industrialized nations. Political leaders and policymakers must face imported inflation, which is not caused by bad policies or measures.

President Ali stated a few countries’ policy ambitions are driving a “strange movement” amid these difficulties.

“We have seen an unwillingness to lend to companies related to oil and gas. We have seen the cost of capital increasing for companies related to oil and gas….”

Consumers and supporting industries suffer, he added.

“If you increase the cost of capital and make capital less available to investors, wherever they get the capital to invest, they will also increase the costs of the product because they also have to get back their investments, and who suffers at the end of the day?”

Dr. Ali advised government and industry players to speak out together.

The President also discussed the Caribbean’s energy possibilities, especially the Guyana Shield, a collaboration between Suriname, French Guiana, Guyana, and Northern Brazil.

He encouraged attendees to explore the “amazing” inflation-fighting policies of this region’s governments.

“In Guyana today, we have no other room to deal with the increases in fuel prices. We took every cent of the tax off. What more? Together with short-term measures, the government must take long-term steps either to increase or diversify oil and gas supply or look to accelerate structural change, very simple.”

The region can “secure our future and promote our cause” with realistic and inventive methods, he added.

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