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Offshore oil drilling platform

Gasoline is costing you and me more and more each day. It is possible that a tiny country in South America might eventually help lower our gasoline price, and, at the same time, eliminate much of it’s terrible poverty. The country is Guyana and I’ve become interested in it because it is where my audiobook “Jungle Peace” takes place.

Because the world uses more and more oil, discovering more oil keeps the price stable.

William Beebe collecting plant and animal specimens in what was then British Guiana

A new Discovery in an old Country

Silently bubbling off the shore of a land, where author William Beebe was busy observing Jaguars, capturing huge snakes, avoiding army ants, watching for rare birds and exploring a fascinating and dangerous jungle that could take his life at any moment, was oil.

This black gold,  wouldn’t be discovered until a hundred years later. Drilling the seventh well in Guyana began last January 2018. It is a big deal for Guyana and, maybe for us!

Steve Greenlee, President of ExxonMobil, expects eventual Guyana production to exceed 500,000 barrels per day. One analyst expects pumping to last for nearly 43 years.

Sudden riches for a poor country

When the actual pumping begins in 2020, the Guyana government expects to be collecting $300 million in petroleum funds yearly. Some people estimate this figure could go up to $5 billion a year by the end of the decade. That’s a lot of oil and a lot of money. No wonder there’s a new Hard Rock Café in the Guyana capitol city of Georgetown.

Stabroek Marketplace, Georgetown, Guyana, where a new Hard Rock Cafe is opening.

Everybody speaks English in Guyana. The laws and basic culture of Guyana are British, descending from the days of British colonization. Guyana broke away and became a republic relatively recently, in 1970.

The population of Guyana is composed mostly of Africans brought to the country as slaves and set free in 1824, and people from North India, hired as indentured servants, under 5 year contracts to work in the sugar industry, rice fields, and the Bauxite and Gold mines. Culturally, it is an uncomfortable mix filled with tension. Each ethnic group is wooed and catered to by politicians who make, as politicians do, a lot of promises.

Who will benefit from oil money

Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River in central Guyana

The discovery of oil will bring jobs to Guyana where the unemployment rate hovers around 11%. It is one of the South America’s poorest countries. 60% of the educated Guyneans simply leave the country for better futures overseas.

It is exciting that a new, prosperous oil industry about to take hold could make it possible for Guyana to become a reasonably prosperous country.


Oil exploration is a very costly business. In addition to the high cost of discovering and drilling, ExxonMobil gave Guyana an $18 million signing bonus.

The only problem might be that small countries with sudden oil discoveries do not have very good track records of handling sudden wealth- Venezuela and Nigeria comes to mind.

Government largess

William Beebe was a world famous orenthologist and adventurer. His fans included President Theodore Roosevelt

It is up to the government of Guyana to provide structural support – pipelines, distribution points, processing facilities, shipping docks. Who will get these contracts? What is a fair price? There are a lot of hands stretched out waiting to help. Let’s hope the Guyanese navigate the troubled seas of graft and corruption.

An daring and adventurous scientist

Plant and animal life float on the Sargosso Sea

In 1918, the passengers on board the ocean liner “Yamaro” gathered on the deck to see an amazing sight described by Beebe in “Jungle Peace”.  Beebe, was strapped into a harness, attached to a cable. He was slowly being precariously lowered beyond the anchor locker to just above the water line. He was studying, first hand, the Sargasso Sea through which the liner cut at a rapid pace. As he dangled there, the water spray in his face, he was collecting pieces of the plant life plant growth floating on top of the waters. It was just another days work for Beebe.


A hundred years later, what is important is not what is on the sea, but what is under it.

Andre Stojka

PS: I loved “Jungle Peace” the moment I read it. I have become a William Beebe fan. He will transport you to another world, in another time, with a lite, colorful writing style that made him famous. In fact, President Theodore Roosevelt was also a fan and wrote the Afterward of this book.


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