There are more than 20 firms in Guyana that have been providing sterling logistical and customs brokerage services for more than 40 years.
Yet, these locals were all bypassed by USA oil company, ExxonMobil, which requires such services. The American firm has given its logistical work to a Trinidadian firm, Ramps Logistics.
According to its website, Ramps Logistics was founded in 1985 in Trinidad and Tobago by Ramnarine Rampersad offering solely customs brokerage services until it expanded its operations later on.
Several persons from the local shipping industry, who spoke with Kaieteur News, all agreed that a Trinidadian firm being given the hog of the logistical work needed in the oil and gas industry is a “national insult” and a “slap in the face of local content”.
One experienced official said, “We have more than 20 companies here which can more than satisfy the needs of ExxonMobil in the area of customs brokerage and logistical service operations.
“There is no way that a Guyanese company would have been able to do the same in Trinidad and Tobago. Ramps Logistics has been dominating the area since the beginning.”
He continued, “It appears that the process for evaluation to get such a job has been carefully crafted by ExxonMobil. It certainly does not take local content into the mix.
“This industry belongs to Guyana. Logistical work is but one of the many low hanging fruits in the oil and gas sector. Even this, ExxonMobil is taking away from locals. It is not fair and the locals with the experience will be made to suffer.”
309 UNNAMED COMPANIES
It was in early March that ExxonMobil announced that it utilized more than 309 local companies last year. It is over two months and the company, which claims to be a champion of local content is still unable to name the entities it used.
If ExxonMobil fails in its duty to name these companies, then its assertions on the matter cannot be taken as genuine or credible. This was noted by Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-law, Christopher Ram.
Ram recalled that it was ExxonMobil’s Public and Government Affairs Advisor, Kimberly Brasington, who had disclosed the “questionable” figure. The lawyer said that if Brasington makes such statements, then she and the company must be able to provide the evidence.
The Chartered Accountant also stressed that it is for the company, not government to provide the facts since they are the ones benefitting from an extremely generous contract.
Ram said, “Brasington has a duty to provide the evidence. This is part of the company’s local content obligations Their obligation to do so is higher than any other company and it is even mandatory, otherwise how do we know that their local content efforts are genuine?”
It was earlier this month that Chairman of the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber (GOGEC), Manniram Prashad, issued a challenge to Brasington to also name the companies she said ExxonMobil used in 2017.
Prashad told Kaieteur News, “If these figures are accurate then we would obviously be happy about it. But 309 Guyanese-owned suppliers? That is just concerning when there is no evidence provided at the same time to support it.”
Brasington failed to provide the names of the entities. Instead, the Government Affairs Advisor said, “This should be a good news story not a controversial one. ExxonMobil Guyana, on behalf of all our contractors, was excited to share some of the project’s local content numbers and thought Guyanese would be proud.
“We take building local content seriously and have demonstrated that through action and capacity building. We want Guyanese suppliers, businesses and individuals to be a part of the industry.”
Brasington said that one way that Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), ExxonMobil’s affiliate in Guyana, and its contractors continue to expand local content efforts is by doing business with Guyanese companies and entities and providing grants to local charities and foundations.
In 2017, Brasington said that ExxonMobil Guyana and its contractors together utilized 348 Guyanese registered suppliers, businesses, and organizations. She said that 309 of those were Guyanese owned.
The Government Affairs Advisor said that many of the 309 entities mentioned are part of the supply chain, or the ‘knock-on effect’ of the industry. She stated that the direct opportunities with ExxonMobil are relatively small in number.
Brasington said, “For example, The Guyana Shore Base Inc. is a direct contractor to ExxonMobil in Guyana. The Guyana Shore Base then goes out and uses local companies to do things such as complete civil work and construct pipe racks, which all gets rolled up and reported in the 309 number.”
For further context, Brasington said that Guyanese businesses provide a wide range of goods and services, including public relations, catering, security, transportation, housing, communications, legal, and IT.
She said that there is no limit to the category of support. The project needs all types of goods and services.
Brasington said that EEPGL reports its local content metrics to the Government on a quarterly basis, including the complete list. Going forward, she said that the company can put out more detailed information on all the various categories that the 309 fit into and give more details and examples.
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