GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) - U.S.-owned Hess Corporation, a consortium partner in Guyana's offshore oil sector, has agreed to buy $750 million worth of carbon credits from the South American nation in the next decade as it works to ensure Guyana's almost intact Amazonian rainforests remain standing for decades to come, officials said Saturday.
Guyanese government officials and executives from New York-based Hess signed off on the agreement late Friday under the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD).
This is the second major such deal the country has negotiated in the past decade. Back in 2009, Norway had signed off on a deal to provide $250 million in funding to help ensure the country's 18 million hectares of forest will remain intact.
Government says it will pursue efforts to secure additional partners in the carbon credit market as the country works to ensure minimal harvesting of its forest resources in a country the size of Britain, or the U.S. state of Idaho, with less than 1 million inhabitants.
"Guyana is one of the most heavily forested countries in the world. We admire the efforts that Guyana has undertaken for years to protect the country's forest, and the government's constant efforts to combat climate change and provide a strong model for other countries, other businesses and other governments," said John Hess, Chief Executive of Hess Corporation at the signing ceremony.
Meanwhile, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said about 30% of the $750 million will be set aside for developments in Indigenous Amerindian communities. There are nine such tribes in Guyana, accounting for about 10% of the population.
"I want to thank Hess Corporation for this agreement. It is clearly transformative and moves us closer to the objectives that we were working on," Jagdeo said.
Hess is a major 35% partner with ExxonMobil and CNOOC of China working in Guyana's lucrative offshore oil and gas sector in the wake of a major 2015 discovery near the border with Suriname. .