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Guyana: Getting Rich Quick

What happens when big oil hits a small, poor nation?

Guyana, a country of just 750,000 people wedged between Venezuela and Suriname on the north-east coast of South America, has never had an oil industry. But a series of recent discoveries in its waters has revealed billions of barrels of oil beneath the ocean, potentially one of the world’s biggest reserves.

Next year, the oil is due to start flowing and the impact on business is already being felt. A shoreside oil service industry has popped up; workers who previously struggled to get by are finding stable employment; and cafes and hotels are overflowing with foreign customers. But encounters with the Venezuelan Navy, huge environmental risks, and legal challenges mean this is a business that is far from straightforward.

Presenter/Producer: Simon Maybin

Photo: A trainee at the Totaltec Academy in Georgetown prepares for work in the new oil sector
Credit: BBC

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29 minutes