GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 21, 2015 (AMG) — With Exxon Mobil still tight-lipped on the value of its oil and natural gas discovery off the coast of Guyana, a Minister of Government there has revealed that the find could be worth up to US$40 billion – twelve times the value of Guyana’s entire economy.

Guyana’s Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, revealed Monday in an interview that Exxon’s Liza-1 well may potentially hold in excess of 700 million barrels of oil, and that pumping of crude there could begin within five years. The revelation was the first official estimate of Liza-1’s market value since Exxon went public with news of its “significant” discovery off the Guyanese coast in May.

Liza-1 is just the first well in the 6.6 million acre Stabroek Block, and Exxon is still exploring other resource potential within the area.

Quoted in Bloomberg Business, Trotman said “a find out this magnitude for a country like [Guyana], which sits on the lower end of the scale of countries in this hemisphere, could be transformational.”

Guyana has traditionally fared poorly on human development and corruption indicators, ranking 121st globally in the 2014 UN Human Development Index, and 124th globally in perceived corruption, but the initial Exxon discovery came in the lead up to a historic change of government in May. At that time, the now newly-elected President, David Granger, welcomed the discovery, and insisted that the resources which came from it would go towards the full development of all Guyanese.

“We will have a lawful, responsible Government… transparent, good agreements, and we’ll ensure that any revenue coming from that petroleum will be used for the public good. We will ensure that the people of Guyana will be the beneficiaries of any profits coming from [this]”, Granger said in May in a comment to the Guyana Times.

Exxon’s discovery comes amid intensified aggression from neighbouring Venezuela, which has for centuries laid claim to the Esequibo region that encompasses the Stabroek Block. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused Exxon of waging a destabalisation campaign against his country, and fiercely opposes Guyana’s grant of an exploration contract to Exxon for the disputed territory.

For Guyana’s part, President Granger continues to condemn the Venezuelan government, dismissing its claims to the Esequibo, and accusing the Maduro regime of using intimidatory tactics aimed at causing hardship to the Guyanese people.

Antillean Media Group, News Desk

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