Guyana, the South American country that is home to the world's largest oil discoveries in a decade, next wants to develop its mostly untapped natural gas reserves, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said on Sunday.
The nation aimed to diversify its oil sector and secure new sources of revenue before the energy transition to renewables reduced demand for fossil fuels, Jagdeo said.
In just a few years, Guyana has emerged as an oil powerhouse with more than 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas found by a consortium led by Exxon Mobil.
Exxon's gas production at the massive Stabroek block is not being used by Guyana or sold abroad. Exxon currently reinjects the gas to maintain the pressure of producing oil wells.
But Jagdeo told Reuters the government saw gas as providing a way for transforming the nation of about 800,000 people.
"We believe gas must be monetized," he said in an interview ahead of an address on Monday at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.
The vice president plans to use the conference to promote 14 untapped offshore blocks to a global audience of energy executives and ministers.
The government expected to receive this year a plan it had requested from Exxon for developing the company's gas discoveries, Jagdeo said. The country was also discussing with technicians and consultants a national strategy to supply gas to industries ranging from petrochemicals to exportable liquefied natural gas (LNG), he said.
"We've had a number of those companies come to us and say 'Should you do that, we want to be considered,'" he said of the potential to become an LNG exporter. He declined to identify which LNG developers had approached the government.
Exxon, which Guyana says could be required to relinquish 20% of its 6.6-million-acre Stabroek block, has not developed its Pluma discovery, which was announced in 2018.
"If they don't utilize it, they have to give it up," Jagdeo said. Pluma is close to Guyana's maritime border with Suriname, where other oil and gas discoveries have been made.
(Reuters - Reporting by Marianna Parraga; Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Bradley Perrett)