Sep 30, 2020 Letters
Guyana lacks the capacity to train its citizens for the oil and gas industry so there is need to start an oil and gas (O&G) institute that would provide training for local Guyanese to prepare them for high demand technical and other jobs in the industry. There is a huge demand for oil workers; currently, training is being sourced overseas in Canada. Money is not spent in Guyana and this local content requirement is not met. An O&G institute would meet the requirement of local content and would be most valuable to the country as it provides government an opportunity to train people for jobs alleviating unemployment and widespread poverty especially among rural and hinterland dwellers.
With unemployment very high, exceeding 50% with the shuttering of sugar factories by the previous regime, termination of government workers on account of political affiliation, and Covid-19, the O&G industry provides opportunities for jobs. An O&G Institute would prepare Guyanese for such jobs that are in and would remain in high demand for three decades. All training would have to be done for free since families, workers, and students have lost income been and unable to meet costs for the training. At any rate, Exxon has been paying for overseas training for Guyanese to acquire the skill set to work in the industry.
As part of local content requirement, Exxon has to hire Guyanese and some 60% of inputs must be local. Recently Exxon paid for the petroleum training in offshore production of some 20 youngsters who were trained in Canada. The trainees returned to Guyana earlier this month. Fulfilling the agreement for local content ensures that greater opportunities will be provided for Guyanese in Oil and Gas (O&G). However, the 20 workers are not nearly enough to meet local content requirement which is placed at 60%. The oil rig staff exceeds 100 so three times more of the workers trained by Exxon. In addition to technical workers for the oil industry, there is a constant need for members of the service industry, including cooks, cleaners, safety officers, fire officers, managers, medics, nurses, etc. All of these staff members can be professionally trained in Guyana with ease rather than being sent abroad for training. Since Exxon and the oil companies and the government would be the primary beneficiaries, they may gladly commit to investment in the project and even to partner with it. It would be in Guyana’s interest for training to take place in Guyana. More individuals can be trained for less money. An O&G Institute would serve such a purpose.
Since Georgetown is overwhelmed with tertiary institutes and since rural areas have been neglected for development, it is strongly suggested that the institute be located in a rural community. Port Mourant is suggested as an ideal location (with possible extended branches in other regions in the future) because of the existence of a foundational structure at the Training Institute and the ready availability of youngsters who would venture into oil and petroleum training. Port Mourant has had a history of training youngsters at the Port Mourant Training Centre (PMTC) for Guysuco technical workers. It has had a successful program for the last sixty years. The institute has been vacant for the last two years and underused and under-utilized during the previous three years. Berbicians have had difficulty getting jobs for the last five years, particularly with the coalition government’s closure of the sugar estates. Additionally, the PMTC has a hostel that can accommodate youngsters from far off locations for training. Facilities for additional accommodation are also available in the area. So it is ideal location for an O&G Institute. (As a footnote: Four of the recruits who were trained in Canada for O&G are grads of PMTC).
That institute would train people to work on rig with pipes, including maintenance; Manage on-shore activities for off-shore production; clean up oil spill and address other environmental disaster; and provide service on the rig like cleaning rooms, attending to staff basic needs, etc. The Guysuco Institute currently provides training in Electrical, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering as well as in handling environmental matters. Petroleum engineering training is missing. This aspect of the O&G Institute would be added to complete the training process. A conversation with instructors at the PMTC indicate that they would love to host O&G training and to add petroleum engineering to its courses. They see no conflict with O&G training as such instruction would occur in separate classrooms. Housing is available at the hostel.
Even if Guysuco resumes training for apprentices (60) for the sugar estates, say in January, there would still be facilities (classrooms and accommodation) for an additional 65 O&G students. The recruits for Guysuco trainees or apprentices will be between the ages of 16 and 18. Training would be geared for those who are more vocational oriented. High schools, therefore, though not exclusively, will be a fertile training ground for trainees or apprentices who would be willing to be trained for work in the O&G industry. Hands-on practical experience will be dome at the oil site or some other related oil internship. Such an institute would help to transform labor skills in Guyana.
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