Location of Guyana in South America
Fact-finding Mission
Travel report by urgewald campaigner Ute Koczy

Guyana and its oil

13.6 billion barrels of oil and 32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are located in the seabed off the coast of Guyana. Even if only half the oil and gas reserves were burnt, the resulting emission could exceed 1 billion tons of CO2. What can be found there in the Atlantic near this small South American country’s coast mounts up to an outright CO2 bomb. The oil companies ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC are already in the process of developing the gigantic oilfield.

When urgewald discovered in 2019 that the World Bank was providing Guyana with a consulting volume of US$ 55 million assistance for facilitating oil development, it was clear that this should be a signal to start a campaign stopping oil production. In Paris, the World Bank had signed a commitment to comply with the climate target of 1, 5 degrees warming, however in Guyana the bank assists in the harzadous deep sea oil and gas extraction. The oil project would turn the current carbon sink Guyana – a country that is almost 80% covered by pristine rain forest – into the all-time largest issuer of CO2 per capita.

Location of the oil off the coast of Guyana

So, in March 2020, I travelled with Denis Schimmelpfennig from the Media Team and photographer Tom Vierus to Guyana. Our goal was to collect facts about the country and the oil project, as well as establishing contacts to provide the project with the necessary clout. Our small team arrived in Guyana at a difficult political time, presidential elections having just been held. The announcement of results is still being delayed by the (presumably) deselected governmental party and there are protests and travel warnings. Generally speaking, corruption is a big problem in Guyana, as is the high crime rate.

Photos: Tom Vierus, Denis Schimmelpfenning, Ute Koczy.

When water stands for days on end in Georgetown’s valleys, sewage is washed out of the toilets, houses decay and this all happens more often, then the most urgent problem is organizing “Climate Resilience” to face climate change.

Ute Koczy
Black Caiman

Day 4 – 6: In the interior

Day 9: The fishermen of Georgetown/Mission accomplished


Before we leave Guyana, we go out to sea with the shrimp fishermen. We would like to capture their angle on the country and the oil. An oil spill would mean the end of their livelihood. Despite the early end to our journey, we think we’ve fulfilled our mission’s goal. However, we’re only on the waiting list for the return flight to Germany.


    Bild Anprechpartner   Ute Koczy

    Ute Koczy
    Kampagnen zu Finanzinstitutionen, Schwerpunkt Weltbank
    ute.koczy [at] urgewald.org
    +49 (0)2583/30492-0

    Bild Anprechpartner   Denis Schimmelpfennig

    Denis Schimmelpfennig
    Leiter digitale Kommunikation
    denis [at] urgewald.org
    +49 (0)30 863 29 22-62

→  Unser Team

Weitere Themen