Guyana is exploring options to monetize the enormous natural gas resources held within its oil fields where Exxon Mobil Corp. is drilling, Vice President Bharatt Jagdeo said in an interview. 

Exxon has identified more than 16 trillion cubic feet of gas in its multitude of oil discoveries, Jagdeo said. The company currently injects most of it back into reservoirs to improve crude recoveries. But there should be enough left over to sell separately from oil, possibly as liquefied natural gas, if Guyana and Exxon can develop the right project, Jagdeo said. 

Suriname, where TotalEnergies SE has also discovered significant quantities of oil and gas, could be a potential partner, he said. 

“This is a new project to focus on possibly some LNG for export and bringing some onshore for domestic industrialization purposes,” Jagdeo said. “This is a separate process” from the gas-to-shore pipeline project currently being built to improve Guyana’s power supply. 

Guyana is keen to make use of all its fossil fuels to cash in before the energy transition gathers pace. Gas is key to its industrial strategy to lower power costs by 50% and open up the possibility of expanding manufacturing and agribusiness. The country is on course to double its oil production to 1.2 million barrels a day in the next three years — up from nothing five years ago — making it a significant global player.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is due to visit Guyana next week to discuss economic ties that would help benefit the region. Guyana is building a road into northern Brazil and has plans for a deepwater port that would reduce shipping times for the region’s agricultural exports. 

“We’ve seen what has happened in other countries: The moment they discover oil and gas the entire focus of the state is on that sector,” Jagdeo said. “They end up with a single sector of the economy producing almost all the duty and the revenue. If you have future sources of income coming from many, many sources, any volatility or any changes will not affect the prosperity of this country.”