Aug 21, 2017 News
– Former Petrotrin Chairman
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Former Chairman of the successful Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Petrotrin), Donald Baldeosingh feels that there is no need for Guyana to try and reinvent the wheel. He said that Guyana has many examples to look at and learn from in order to make the best of its oil resource.
Baldeosingh thinks his home country, Trinidad and Tobago, is a good place for Guyana to learn from. The former Petrotrin Chairman said that there are many areas where Guyana can learn from Trinidad, “you guys can see what worked and what didn’t.”
From the outset, the former Chairman sought to make it clear, “I am not selling Trinidad services here, I am selling Trinidad’s ideas and experience.”
He said that one key area where Guyana can learn from Trinidad is in the development of its nationals. “We sent a lot of people out on scholarships.”
Baldeosingh said that ExxonMobil, the same oil giant that is now operating in Guyana also operated in Trinidad and assisted in scholarships.
He said that the first petroleum engineer who was trained in Trinidad was sponsored. That scholarship was funded by the Southern Basin Consortium of which ExxonMobil was a partner.
Baldeosingh said that strategic picking of locals to send on scholarships for specialized areas should be happening now.
“A good quality workforce development audit or survey should be done to identify who is available to work in the industry.
“Guyana does not want to be the cooks and cleaners of its oil industry. It wants to be its technicians, technologists and engineers; it wants to be side by side with the overseas people who are coming into the industry.”
He said that in order for Guyana to make that kind of contribution to its own industry, the country has to “get into training in a very strategic and immediate way. That is one of the reasons we are promoting this MBA in oil and gas,”
The MBA programme to which Baldeosingh referred is one that may soon be offered by School of the Nations. That institution has partnered with the University of Bradford in England to offer some progammes here. The process is nearing completion with all relevant areas covered on the Nations and Bradford side. All that is left is for Nations to complete the process with the local National Accreditation Council (NAC).
Indeed, many of the jobs that Guyanese currently hold in the developing oil industry are menial. These are mostly able bodies on a drill ship offshore.
The points Baldeosingh made about Guyana learning from Trinidad and the need to develop nationals was also articulated by former Trinidadian Minister of Energy, Kevin Ramnarine.
Ramnarine said that the government should provide scholarships to enthused locals with the ability to do well, so that they can in turn serve the country’s oil industry whether directly or indirectly.
Ramnarine gave this advice when he appeared at one of the lectures being hosted by the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA).
At that forum, Ramnarine, who studied Geology said, “One area that I give Trinidad good marks is in developing talent. This has taken place through the UWI (University of the West Indies), UTT (University of Trinidad and Tobago), NESC (National Energy Skills Center) and MIC (Metal Industries Company).”
Ramnarine said too, “We have also used monies collected from Production Sharing Contracts to fund scholarships for nationals to pursue studies in geosciences, petroleum engineering, petroleum economics, and, very importantly, petroleum law.”
He stressed, “Guyana must have an obsession to develop its nationals in these areas.”
Speaking to one of the mistakes Trinidad and Tobago has made, Ramnarine said that Guyana should make sure, from the onset, that it pays its citizens working in the oil industry very well.
The former Minister said that one of the weaknesses of Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Energy is that it sits as part of the wider public service. He said that this means that salaries for the professional staff at the Ministry are much lower compared to their peers in the oil and gas companies, which is a “big mistake.”
Ramnarine said that as a result, the Ministry of Energy is constantly losing its geologists, engineers, commercial analyst and lawyers.
He told those who gathered at the lecture, “I recommend that Guyana seek to cure this from the onset.” Ramnarine said that the salaries paid to Government and state sector workers in the Oil and Gas Sector should be comparable to what obtains in the wider industry. He predicted, “If Guyana does not deal with this upfront, you will end up with the best and brightest Guyanese working for Exxon, when they should be working for the Government.”
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