The Government has been developing a Local Content Policy to ensure that Guyanese skills are optimally utilised in the emerging oil and gas sector.
Guyana’s oil find has attracted a number of foreign direct investors seeking to benefit from the oil wealth. According to the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), a total of 36 foreign companies have registered businesses in Guyana.
Some of these businesses, which range from agriculture, services and energy, have also made contact with ExxonMobil, the company that is going to produce Guyana’s oil.
Minister of Natural Resources Hon Raphael G. C. Trotman
ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Jeff Simon had previously explained to the media that the company usually sub-contracts most of its work. However, Simon assured that ExxonMobil will “work with those contractors on the local content issue.”
Recognising that foreign direct investment creates a loophole that could circumvent using local content, the government has drafted a Local Content Policy. Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, said this policy will seek to ensure that Guyanese skills, services and labour are utilised in the sector.
However, Minister Trotman pointed out that the influx of foreign content provides the opportunity for raising the standard of local services and other businesses. “There are certain standards that we have to aspire to, and it’s good because what happens, standards throughout the country get lifted in food and beverage, in accommodation…” the Minister noted.
It was pointed out by the Minister that Guyanese in the diaspora have also been returning to establish businesses or offer their services and skills in the sector.
Currently, ExxonMobil is utilising 177 different Guyanese companies to supply its food, fuel and other materials. Simon said that it is the company’s mission to maximise local content in its operations around the world.
Meanwhile, the government has also been working to boost capacity at the technical institutes and the University of Guyana (UG), towards developing a locally trained workforce in various skills within the oil and gas sector. Beginning in the new academic year, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) will provide $100M to UG over the next five years.
It has been pointed out by both the Minister and ExxonMobil that the offshore production of the country’s oil will not be labour intensive since most of the equipment used will “high-tech, highly instrumented.”
Additionally, the government will be working with ExxonMobil and expatriate Guyanese to train locals in various skills across the sector.
The government has also begun processing applications for scholarships towards developing requisite skills in the sector. The Government of Chile, along with the Government of Mexico’s Petroleum Institute are among those that have offered opportunities for training.