Guyana to tap oil fund as it hikes 2022 budget spending

* Oil fund had $607.6 million by end of 2021

* Fund forecast to receive $957.6 million this year

* Latin American nation began producing oil in 2019

Jan 27 (Reuters) - Guyana’s government submitted its 2022 budget to parliament this week, proposing a 44% increase in spending to the equivalent of $2.65 billion and saying it planned to use resources from the nation’s oil fund for the first time.

A large portion of the budget for the Latin American nation, which began oil production in 2019, is earmarked for infrastructure, including gas-fired power plants and solar energy projects.

Finance Minister Ashni Singh said the government was proposing an “accelerated development agenda” that will use Guyana’s new oil wealth to limit borrowing and avoid new taxes.

Parliament must approve the budget.

Guyana expects 94 crude oil cargoes to be exported this year from the Stabroek block, operated by a consortium led by U.S. Exxon Mobil. The government will receive 13 of the 94 cargoes as its share of production.

A total of 37 crude cargoes were shipped last year from Guyana or almost 35 million barrels, according to Refinitiv Eikon tanker tracking data, the equivalent of about 96,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Guyana’s Natural Resources Fund this year is forecast to receive $957.6 million, comprising about $857 million for the government’s share of production and $100.5 million from royalties, Singh said.

In 2021, the oil fund received $357.2 million from government’s profit from oil and $52 million from royalties, bringing the fund’s balance to $607.6 million by the end of the year, according to official figures.

Reporting by Neil Marks and Marianna Parraga; Editing by Edmund Blair