Weird things happen when you’re an investigative reporter trying to cover an international oil giant like ExxonMobil. Your plane tickets are mysteriously canceled, your hotel room gets broken into, and the local reporter that you’ve hired is offered a lucrative job to work on something else. In this special bonus episode for Patreon subscribers, investigative journalist and podcaster Amy Westervelt tells us what it was like to report and produce the new season of her podcast, Drilled. It’s called “Light Sweet Crude.” In it, she takes us to the tiny South American nation Guyana where, in 2015, ExxonMobil discovered one of the world’s largest off-shore oil reserves. Seemingly overnight, Guyana began transforming from an international environmental leader and model of sustainable development to one of the world’s fastest growing petrostates.
Why start a brand new oil industry in the middle of a climate crisis in a country that is particularly vulnerable to climate impacts? Do wealthy, western, oil-guzzling nations have any right to tell a nation like Guyana to keep their fossil fuels in the ground? And once a project like this gets going, is there anything that can be done to stop it?