Explore. Discover. Invest.
Investing , Travel

Notes From Guyana

March 12, 2024
Notes From Guyana

“This is the wildest place I’ve ever done business,” he yelled. “And that’s saying something coming from me. I’ve been in the oil industry for 40 years all across Africa, Russia, and the Middle East.”

In the background, Afro-Latin music was playing so loudly that we literally had to scream in eachother’s faces to hear one another. The scene was quite unique – if I had been dropped right onto that rooftop bar from a helicopter, I wouldn’t know where I was.

It was like a cross between a night club in Tanzania and Cartagena, mixed with Hong Kong prices.

While we sipped Guyana’s prized El Dorado rum, he opened up to me about what was going on in the country. Beyond oil, the opportunities sounded endless. And, in true frontier market fashion, also booby trapped with risk.

Earlier that same evening, I hosted a dinner at the historic Cara Lodge with guests from ExxonMobile, the US Embassy, and the Guyanese government. In the past, this hotel has hosted the King of England, a US President, and other international Royalty. The setting, in its mid-1800’s style, perfectly set the tone.

Cara Lodge dinner

Our dinner at Cara Lodge, listening to the CFO of ExxonMobile, Guyana.

Our dinner was an introduction to what is actually going on in Guyana. We heard perspectives from both the private and public sectors, and several companies pitched to our group of investors.

Of course, that dinner was just a warm up for the evening, and the rest of the trip…

Into the Essequibo

The next morning, I woke up without a voice. I sounded like a raspy old lady with occassional puberty-esque voice cracks. The late night yelling session with the 40-year oil vet completely destroyed my vocal chords. But it was totally worth it.

He invited our Explorer group to visit his agriculture project, which was to the west of Georgetown in a region which Venezuela is currently threatening to invade.

Bridge to Essequibo

Driving east of Georgetown, across a massive floating bridge.

As intimidating as that may sound, the reality on the ground is far from what the media spouts. The local Guyanese now joke that they live in “Eastern Venezuela,” even though the real name is the Essequibo region and internationally recognized to belong to Guyana.

entering essequibo

The only sign of welcome.

A Venezuelan ground invasion is extremely unlikely. Not only would the Maduro led nation need to forge through inpenetrable swamp land, but they’d also have to contend with a Guyanese government that has a new big brother – the US.

Although flight trackers have recently documented Russian military supply aircraft landing in Caracas, Maduro’s threats likely relate to his upcoming reelection bid. Is there no better way to distract your contituents from rampant soveriegn inflation and mismanagement of natural resources, than picking a fight with your neighbor?

Even if Maduro was serious, he’d be entangling the world’s largest military who would surely come to the aid of ExxonMobil and other US oil corporations currently drilling off the coast of Guyana.

Still, in a resource rich land that is being courted by the world’s super powers (via their proxy oil corporations), the risks are real.

Back in Georgetown

Our projected “couple hour” tour of the land west of Georgetown ended up being an all-day affair. Between our two tour vans, no one brought any food for the day long adventure, leaving us all tired and hangry.

Back in Georgetown, we returned to our overpriced hotel to prepare for another evening of meeting Guyana’s movers and shakers.

Georgetown’s locals avoid jaywalking. 

In the evening we gathered at a rooftop restaurant, where menu items almost made New York look like a bargain. Similar to other frontier boomtowns, Guyana’s perveyors of quality products and services have enormous demand, even at nosebleed prices.

Fortunate for us, our on-the-ground partner, Cross Boundary, was the host for the evening. In addition to picking one of the poshest locations for that night’s dinner, they also invited a wide variety of VIPs, which included one individual in charge of the nation’s emerging tourism industry.

Similar to the valuable offshore oil reserves, the interior of the country is home to an equally rich land. Although most investors know about the many gold and rare earth mines throughout the jungle, there is also a natural world that has yet to be tapped by eco-tourism entrepreneurs. And that’s exactly who the Guyanese government is looking for.

Deep within the jungle, most of which hasn’t been explored, there is a wide variety of birds, mammals, and fish that most people have never seen. There is even evidence of several human tribes who have yet to be contacted by the outside world.

Currently, the tourism industry related to exploring the natural wonders of the country is extremely limited. But considering that Guyana is a 4 hour direct flight from the US, and doesn’t even require a visa, the potential for eco-entrepreneurs is massive.

Returning to Guyana

I don’t have a date yet, but I’m certain I will be returning to the only English speaking country in South America. The new information I was able to gather, after barely scratching the surface, is enough to make any investor salivate.

It’s also worth noting that the most interesting opportunities I discovered are not fit to be shared here. That’s mostly because I don’t know quite enough details yet… and because they are currently unfolding in real time.

However, one hint I can share is that it’s likely that I’ll have to go exploring just beyond Guyana’s border. Who’s coming with me next time?