Ex­ist­ing in­dus­tries seek­ing boost from oil and gas lo­cal con­tent frame­work, con­sul­tant says

-ca­pac­ity build­ing and value-adding seen as vi­tal

Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS - The open­ing lasts for 1 1/2 hours

Con­sul­ta­tions on the Lo­cal Con­tent Pol­icy for the oil and gas in­dus­try have urged that ex­ist­ing sec­tors not be ne­glected and for a way to be found to build ca­pac­ity and bet­ter all in­dus­tries.

Trinida­dian con­sul­tant and en­ergy spe­cial­ist An­thony Paul, who is charged with draft­ing the lo­cal con­tent frame­work for Guyana’s pe­tro­leum sec­tor, un­der­scored this point on Fri­day as he briefed the media on his seven-month-long con­sul­ta­tions coun­try­wide.

“What they are say­ing is that look, ‘We don’t want to all leave to go look for oil and gas. What we would like to see in ad­di­tion to the oil and gas strat­egy is to make sure that you don’t for­get us. Give us roads, give us elec­tric­ity, give us in­fra­struc­ture give us what­ever we need to run the busi­nesses,” Paul said.

“This is some­thing the gov­ern­ment would have to look into in or­der to not de­stroy other sec­tors of the in­dus­try,” he added.

Paul noted that sim­i­lar feed­back was re­ceived from across Guyana as he held dis­cus­sions in the three coun­ties which in­cluded or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Ge­orge­town, Ber­bice and Esse­quibo Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try, the Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion, the Guyana Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion, the African Busi­ness Roundtable, the Guyana Oil and Gas As­so­ci­a­tion Inc, the Guyana Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants of Guyana, Go-In­vest, the Guyana Ge­ol­ogy and Mines Com­mis­sion, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and the Mar­itime Ad­min­is­tra­tion De­part­ment.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Re­gional Demo­cratic Coun­cils also formed part of the stake­holder out­reaches.

“The Guyanese busi­ness people from Ge­orge­town, Lin­den, Ber­bice and Esse­quibo are very prag­matic. They were not about ‘give us things,’ they were about ‘help us to un­der­stand what we need to do to get up to speed,’” Paul said.

“What I found was people are not keen to leave their ex­ist­ing busi­nesses at all. They are say­ing ‘this is what we do and do well,’ which was not the fo­cus of th­ese con­ver­sa­tions but speaks to a point that Guyana wants to avoid the re­source curse.

“It wasn’t part of the ses­sions but an im­por­tant part and con­stant that we had to keep in mind. [They asked ] ‘How can rev­enue from the sec­tor help our part of the econ­omy grow?’ No­body is looking for a handout.

“They were say­ing to us ‘Let us know what is needed, let us know what we have to do,’” Paul added.

He made it clear that the frame­work ad­dresses not just how Guyanese will get em­ployed and get con­tracts but also how ca­pac­ity is built in Guyana, which in turn goes be­yond and also speaks about value ad­di­tion.

Lim­ited life­span

Value ad­di­tion, he ex­plained, will be quite im­por­tant in the Guyana per­spec­tive since it is twopronged and of­fers not just train­ing but di­rec­tion on us­ing skills gained from for­eign com­pa­nies to bet­ter prod­ucts and ser­vices.

“The other part, which I think is quite im­por­tant, is about Guyanese gain­ing value. It is about Guyanese gain­ing knowl­edge and skills, through the trans­fer of knowl­edge from for­eign com­pa­nies, so Guyanese busi­nesses im­prove the stan­dard of the qual­ity of ser­vice that they de­liver. They will also be­come more com­pet­i­tive and pro­duc­tive and are there­fore able to use the amount of for­eign ex­pen­di­ture, keep­ing things lo­cal, and earn for­eign ex­change. Oil and gas has a lim­ited life­span, and in or­der for Guyana to ben­e­fit we must be able to take Guyana be­yond oil and gas,” Paul said.

“The oil and gas in­dus­try uses busi­ness skills and ser­vices all in­dus­tries’ needs but uses them to a high stan­dard. Hav­ing th­ese oil com­pa­nies who are some of the higher com­pa­nies in the world, be it Exxon, Tul­low, Sch­lum­berger, Hal­libur­ton etcetera, would mean bring­ing ser­vices to their stan­dard and this means Guyanese com­pa­nies will raise their com­pa­nies to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. Many of those ser­vices that they use are busi­ness ser­vices, such as IT and ac­count­ing etcetera, [and] are needed by other sec­tors in the econ­omy. Lo­cal con­tent is not just about get­ting em­ploy­ment but rais­ing the qual­ity of ser­vices in Guyana to help Guyana de­velop.

“The op­por­tu­ni­ties in oil and gas is that oil and gas com­pa­nies do have the abil­ity to build ca­pac­ity. The pol­icy now will aim to make sure that all of th­ese things hap­pen ef­fi­ciently,” he added.

To this end, he ex­plained, he would be craft­ing the pol­icy frame­work to meet both short and long-term skills so that lo­cals can fully ben­e­fit from pro­cure­ment of works and ser­vices in the sec­tor.

“Yes, Guyanese are lim­ited in what they can do to sup­port the oil and gas sec­tor but there are some things they can do al­ready. Maybe low level, but cer­tainly you don’t get a chance to im­prove what you have un­til you par­tic­i­pate.

“What we are say­ing in the pol­icy is that lo­cal Guyanese should be given pref­er­ence in ar­eas where they are al­ready com­pe­tent and meet stan­dards. In ar­eas where they are not, and their cur­rent sta­tus al­lows them to be built up, to be­come com­pet­i­tive. Then they will be given a chance to par­tic­i­pate, either di­rectly or with part­ner­ships, who would trans­fer their knowl­edge, tech­nol­ogy work pro­ce­dures… to Guyanese,” Paul said.

“So, first, Guyanese would be given pref­er­ence; se­condly, a chance to grow and in so do­ing, thirdly, would be­come world-class.

“Hav­ing be­come world­class, Guyanese are now po­ten­tially [able] to ex­port their ser­vices in­ter­na­tion­ally…and that is the idea of us­ing lo­cal con­tent, us­ing ca­pac­ity build­ing... Ca­pac­ity build­ing has two facets: ed­u­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence and the pol­icy drives at both of them.

“So, as we do that we un­der­stand the need to get train­ing in­sti­tu­tions up to speed and the com­pa­nies to un­der­stand their role in en­gag­ing lo­cal sup­pli­ers and bet­ter­ing them,” he added.

Sun Mon Sept 17, 2017 14:40 - 16:10hrs Sept 18, 2017 15:25 - 16:55hrs

An­thony Paul (GINA photo)

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