With any oil producing country in the world, there has always been incidents of oil spills, and as such, Guyana must make all the necessary plans to ensure that it can respond effectively and efficiently in the event that any such incident occurs offshore Guyana when production begins in 2020.This is the firm view expressed by former Trinidad and Tobago Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, who is advising Government not only on the development of a local oil spill contingency plan, but one that will cater for neighbouring countries.Former T&T Energy Minister, Kevin RamnarineRamnarine dubbed it “bilateral oil spill contingency plan.”“I don’t know of any country in the world that produces oil that has never had oil spill; whether small, medium or large, “the former Energy Minister said.He explained that ever since the 1989 Alaska oil spill (one of the world’s largest oil spills), it changed environmental and shipping standards. “And so that also changed Exxon’s behaviour. It became a much safer company after that.” However, Ramnarine said having a bilateral oil spill contingency plans with your neighbouring countries is important.“Because, of course oil spilled in water doesn’t only select to one country. We had an experience in Trinidad where in 2017 our oil spill from Trinidad found its way into Venezuela,” he recalled.Contingency planGovernment had disclosed that an oil spill contingency plans is being crafted. The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is the lead agency that is formulating the national response plan. But the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) are also assisting.Meanwhile, the former Minister also warned that Guyana should not make plans based on assumptions and is therefore advising the country against borrowing money before first oil. Ramnarine who said there are some examples of this not turning out well for some countries.“I think Guyana would be best advised to wait for the revenues to start to flow because there’s another country Ghana, where they started to make plans based on assumptions of a certain oil production level and a certain price and then the oil production level didn’t happen, and the price fell,” he told media operatives at the sidelines of the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit and Exhibition (GIPEX) 2018.Ramnarine noted that while some initial work on the country’s infrastructure may be needed before production begins in 2020, this should not be done to the extent of requiring too much finances.“So, I think the two have to happen simultaneously. I think some developments have not but when the revenue starts to flow in 2020, some of which will be used for infrastructure…I would really wait for the monies to start to flow to begin with the significant infrastructure,” he explained. Asked whether he thinks that Guyana has put enough mechanisms in place to protect its cost recovery, the former Minister responded in the affirmative, but noted that institutional strengthening is key.“Those persons should be in the process of being trained right now and you can probably send people abroad to train or bring people from other countries that have experience in cost recovery…”Ramnarine stressed the need for training in the area of metering and calibration, which he claimed is a huge problem facing the oil sector in his home country, Trinidad and Tobago.“So, there has to be officers in the Petroleum Commission, whose job it is to go and read the meters and calibrate because if the meter is off by a couple of per cent, we’re talking about $340,000 of oil per day. So if you make an error of 0.5 per cent, you’re talking about big money. Small errors mean big money.”Ramnarine concluded that while Government is consulting it must ensure that in the end, they make the right decisions and choices because these decisions will determine the future of the sector.