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Oil companies must ensure local get jobs or “it will not go down well”- Irfaan Ali

Delano Williams /Guyana Chronicle

SAIPEM opens offshore construction facility in city. From left) Alistair Routledge, President of ExxonMobil Guyana; Giorgio Martelli, President and CEO of SAIPEM America; President Dr. Irfaan Ali; and Managing-Director of Saipem Guyana Inc., Thuranthiran Nadaraja, unveiling the SAIPEM Guyana Offshore Construction Facility plaque on Saturday.

By Kiana Wilburg / Kaieteur News

Petroleumworld 06 06 2021

When it comes to local content commitments from oil companies, President, Irfaan Ali, has zero interest in flowery words. The Head of State put all oil companies on notice yesterday that he is looking for action, categorically stating that oil companies must ensure Guyanese businesses have equal access to contracts in the Sector “or it will not go down well.”

The President made this declaration among others during his impassioned presentation at the opening of Saipem Guyana's Offshore Construction Facility at Water Street, Georgetown. The opening of the facility represented a major milestone for Saipem America Inc., which is one of ExxonMobil's prime contractors. The oilfield contractor has been the main provider of subsea cables and associated structures for ExxonMobil's offshore Guyana projects, namely, the Liza Phase One, Liza Phase Two and Payara Projects.

During his feature address, the President spoke extensively about his Government's position on local content and ensuring the interest of Guyanese are well protected. In this regard, he recalled that an investor who recently examined Guyana's draft Local Content Policy deemed it to be tough. The President said he immediately reminded the investor that the openness companies can enjoy here is certainly not offered by other oil producing States. The President alluded to the fact that in Trinidad and Tobago for example, companies cannot even buy land.

But this is possible in Guyana.

Ali said, “…We have an open position – there is no discrimination but we will have to ensure that, in this openness, Guyanese own the facilities to be rented and Guyanese own the opportunities to invest in those facilities. I made it very clear and I am very transparent in what I am saying and you don't have to second guess me. Logistics, it is not scientific work – it should easily go to Guyanese.”

The President continued, “Don't tell me I need a foreign logistics firm to tell me how to do brokerage services or how to clear something at the airport or how to hire taxis and do rentals in the industry and then the very logistics companies will come here and do the work themselves.”

He added, “It will not go down well. Don't second guess me, I am telling you openly, whether you are a subcontractor or not, it will not go down well. You will push us to change our policy.”

The President said when it comes to local content, the very essence of what is required by the phrase is very clear—if Guyanese have the capabilities and are competitive, they have to be given the opportunities. He said too that investors should find it not only essential but part of their own internal value to collaborate with the local private sector so as to build local capacity and create opportunities for Guyanese.


The President also proffered that investment in local content cannot only be about job creation. The President said this is not to take away from the commendable efforts by Saipem to train and hire Guyanese since fabrication is a crucial aspect of the oil industry. He noted however that he wants to see generational wealth created.

“How do we create 1,000 new entrepreneurs? How do we create opportunities for generational wealth? I am not only asking for this in the oil and gas sector, I am saying to you that this can only be created if you use the resources from this sector to open up and strengthen other aspects of the economy…whether it is agro-processing, mining, rentals, owning hotels…,” the Head of State said.

Ali noted that the Government is acutely aware of the fact that it has to play its role in this area too. He said that this is where the Government has to invest in creating the environment and the opportunity through education, training and development, land and home ownership, and small business development.

He said too that it will require members of the private sector joining forces to create opportunities. The President said, “(Members of the) private sector need to come together, build synergies, build consortiums and go after the opportunities so you can give us something to fight with you for…”

Further to this, the President said it is critical that Guyanese learn to be bold thinkers and examine the business opportunities that are available nearby. In this regard, he referred to Suriname which is in the process of building its capabilities after finding significant oil offshore.

The President said, “…We have a first jump, a lot will happen in Suriname. But what are we doing to ensure we can provide some of the business solutions? We have to think boldly, what are we going to do to go after that?”

Overall, the President said that the approach to local content must realise transformation not just in oil and gas, but across all sectors.

Story from Kaieteur News
06 06 2021

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