By Kiana Wilburg
The industrial and educational capacity needed to ensure Guyanese take a leading role in managing the country’s nascent oil and gas sector is woefully deficient.
In spite of calls from revered institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for an accelerated process, the sloth continues.
But even in the face of several challenges, one Guyanese is determined to change this state of affairs by taking an active role in developing local content in Guyana. Just more than a year ago, Sheldon Davis partnered with Century Tamara Energy Services (CTES), a Nigerian oil and gas firm with more than 30 years experience. Together, they have established an office here that sees a large employment of locals.
According to Davis, his partnership with the Nigerian firm has enabled him to provide an array of capacity building exercises for his fellow brothers and sisters.
Davis said that taking an active role in the development of local content here is of importance to him, especially when one considers the recent call by the government for support from regional and international partners to build the capacity of policy makers, officers, technicians, private sector professionals and all stakeholders on the issues and challenges surrounding this emerging sector.
Davis said, “With this CTES partnership, we are more than equipped and ready to answer Government’s call for experienced partners. Just to give you some insight into what we do, CTES provides Supply Chain Management services, Operations and Maintenance programmes, Marine Services, Ports/ Terminal Development and Management services, and even training to the South American Hydrocarbon market.”
The Country Manager continued, “CTES prides itself as the only one that will do whatever it takes to get the oil/gas to the market that needs it while ensuring full domestic participation and contribution to economic and national growth. In the maritime services sector, CTES offers a suite of services. These include Port Management; Chartering and Management of Offshore Support Vessels, Platform Support Vessels, Utility Vessels, and Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessels; Mooring and Installation, Bunkering Services and Tank Farm Operations.”
Further to this, he said that CTES brings along with it, more than a decade of knowledge and experience from its strategic partner, Century Group, which happens to be sub-Sahara’s largest indigenous oil and gas service provider in the operations and maintenance of both onshore/offshore facilities. CTES also offers a range of other services, which include Operations and Maintenance of FPSO’s onshore/swamp-area flow stations; Manpower and Crew services; Community Liaison and Storage and Evacuation Solutions.
With the blessings of the government, Davis noted that CTES would be ready and committed to training and certifying qualified Guyanese for oil and gas positions, which include but are not limited to: Production engineers, technicians, production chemist, maintenance engineers, welders, fitters, oilers, maintenance planners, engine room operators, materials co-coordinators, deck supervisors, Health Safety and Environment (HSE) personnel etc.
LOCAL CONTENT & EXTERNAL PARTNERS
According to Davis, the need for local content development in Guyana cannot be over emphasized. He stressed that Guyana’s local content policy, in whatever form it takes, must ensure the development of partnerships between locals and regional and international companies so that Guyanese can be able to harness the opportunities involved in the oil sector. He said that these include opportunities to bring more foreign direct investment, job creation, skills acquisition, technological transfer and wealth creation.
Davis said, “Many countries with natural resources, especially oil and gas, have already developed polices to favour the fostering of partnerships to help develop these resources. The idea is to enact and enforce policies that will persuade participating companies to transfer technology, create job opportunities and at the same time patronize the local supply industry while they are exploiting resources of the host country.”
The Country Manager continued, “Partnership networks between companies, governments, schools/universities, and training institutions, including affected communities; with agreement on gaps, goals and targets is an effective way to manage expectations and plan beyond the project.”
Davis said that this includes expanding existing facilities and introducing new materials and experts to support training platforms that can be used across multiple industries or can be modified later for different skills needed within the industry. Moreover, Davis emphasized that partnership networks can also “crowd-in” external donors, ancillary industries, investors, and NGOs to align their economic development programmes around a common local content vision and plan for the country.
OPTI MIZING LOCAL CONTENT
Expounding further on the need to optimize local content here, Davis highlighted that where local skills exist, introducing expatriate workers can cost more. Beyond variance in pay, Davis stated that the costs of recruiting, transporting, and caring for expatriate workers can add significant costs to the project.
Davis commented, “While this has an obvious impact on competitiveness, it also affects the ability to finance local content building projects. Even when such skills do not exist locally, it is desirable to maximize local workers and suppliers, and where appropriate, optimize relevant capabilities to develop their specialization and diversification. In Guyana’s case, CTES is willing to play an active role in this regard.”
He continued, “This approach brings benefits beyond the immediate financial ones to a country that is entering the oil and gas sector. They include indigenous knowledge and know-how; supportive social interactions with communities; local workforce/suppliers becoming anchors for future business growth in the region, and “clusters” of service companies serving as a local supply chain for future projects.”
Davis added that corporate social investments can also be used to supplement workforce or supplier development programmes. This may include creating a venture fund to catalyze local entrepreneurship, partnering with local NGOs to build technical competencies, or implementing a training programme on savings and tax preparation.
In conclusion, the Country Manager of CTES said it is imperative for the Government and industry supporters to work together to identify the demand for goods and services, available local capacity and a strategy for training and supplier development to close gaps, as determined by national or local development priorities.
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