1. Guyana makes another large oil discovery.
Exxon Mobill, commissioned by Guyana, has announced its 19th oil discovery in the off-shore Stabroek block. Drilling at the Uaru-2 site found approximately 120 feet of high-quality oil-bearing reservoirs. A spokesman from Exxon Mobil noted that this will allow the company to “unlock additional value for the people of Guyana”. Guyana’s newfound oil wealth is critical to securing the countries future and development, with the country’s nine billion barrels of oil estimated to be worth as much as $160 billion.
2. Britain is sending a huge naval force to the Indo-Pacific.
The UK Ministry of Defence announced on Monday that the full UK Carrier Strike Group, led by the aircraft carrier HMS Elizabeth, will depart on a months long voyage to the Indo-Pacific in May. The largest British naval force assembled in recent history, the voyage signals Britain’s foreign policy turn to the East in the wake of Brexit. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace “noted that When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain -- projecting our influence, signaling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow”.
3. Gas production stalls in Mozambique amidst violence.
French energy producer Total has suspended its works on gas fields in Mozambique after the violent attacks on nearby Palma. The company released a statement noting that they were withdrawing all staff and ceasing activities due to the “evolving” security situation. This is a further blow inflicted on Mozambique by the insurgency as many have believed that the country’s newfound oil wealth would transform its development prospects and engender stability. Total’s $20 billion investment in Mozambique’s energy sector is the largest current foreign investment in Africa, and this cessation has thrown its future into doubt. Like many other nations, Mozambique’s discovery of vast energy reserves has plunged the country into chaos, rather than delivering promised prosperity.
4. Elements of India’s healthcare system are being overwhelmed by spiking COVID-19 cases.
India is facing shortages of critical medical supplies due to the rapidly increasing spread of new variants of Coronavirus. India reported 379,257 new infections and 3,645 new deaths on Thursday the 29th of April, the highest number of fatalities in a single day since the start of the pandemic, in any country. Oxygen in particular is in critically short supply and many COVID patients that may have survived had they had access to oxygen are dying. The lack of oxygen is having tragic secondary effects on India’s healthcare system in areas such as neo-natal care. India’s military has begun to move supplies across the country and will also open its medical facilities to civilians. Nations from around the world, including Bangladesh and the United Kingdom, have begun sending aid to India to help ease the pressure on the country’s healthcare system.
5. Australia announces $747 million spending plan for defence upgrades in the Indo-Pacific.
Australia has announced plans to invest $747 million dollars in upgrading four strategically located military bases in the Northern Territory to encourage defence cooperation with its allies in the Indo-Pacific. The investment will look to improve the Australian Defence Force’s ability to simulate battle situations. Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted that “these defence training areas and facilities will support greater engagement with our Indo-Pacific neighbours and our allies, and [allow us] to conduct small- and large-scale military exercises across a number of different scenarios”. This announcement comes amidst escalating tensions with China, but the Prime Minister insisted that this spending was not prompted by the threat of any one state. Rather, it is intended to support “peace, stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific, with a world order that favours freedom”.