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GUYANA
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You may not be familiar with Guyana now, but we guarantee you will be in the near future. This small English-speaking nation in South America is about to become one of the "richest" countries in the world. In 2015, Exxon Mobil discovered 5 to 8 billion barrels worth of light crude oil reserves off of Guyana's coast, with an estimated value of more than $100 billion. In December 2019, Exxon began extracting its find at a rate of 120,000 barrels per day. In January 2020, Guyana's first-ever shipment of oil (containing nearly 1 million barrels) set sail to Exxon's refineries in Texas. Initially, the International Monetary Fund predicted that Guyana's GDP would grow by 86% in 2020. Due to a global decline in fuel demands stemming from the pandemic and the ensuing Russian-Saudi oil price war, this calculation was ultimately revised to 30.9%. This figure is still quite impressive, though, seeing as it makes Guyana one of the only nations in the world to experience double-digit positive growth in 2020. Despite its relative poverty, aging infrastructure, and polarized politics, most observers remain optimistic that Guyana will not fall victim to the proverbial "resource curse" like its oil-rich neighbor, Venezuela, did. The exponential rise in oil exploration and extraction projects, the likely influx of foreigners that these types of projects will generate, and the resulting rise in Guyanese incomes make Guyana the country to watch in 2021.