Oil sup­port com­pany work­ing to over­come ‘Nige­rian scam’ stigma

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

With its par­ent com­pany based in Nige­ria, Cen­tury Ta­mara En­ergy Ser­vices (CTES) has been bat­tling the stigma of the West African na­tion’s no­to­ri­ety for scams as it seeks to gain a foothold in Guyana’s de­vel­op­ing oil and gas sec­tor.

Based on the de­scrip­tion painted by the CTES Coun­try Man­ager, Guyanese Shel­don Davis, the mis­giv­ings of Guyanese about en­ter­ing into busi­ness with a Nige­rian com­pany has been a chal­lenge for the com­pany, with even the Gov­ern­ment of Guyana putting it through a rigid due dili­gence process.

“We have ap­proached the gov­ern­ment and I must say it hasn’t been as warm as we would have liked it to be, in terms of our areas of in­ter­est... There is a lot of scru­tiny when gov­ern­ment or com­pa­nies are work­ing with com­pa­nies based in Nige­ria and that is based on that coun­try’s past his­tory with in­vol­un­tary and vol­un­tary cor­rup­tion,” Davis told Sun­day Stabroek in an in­terview.

“The stigma says ‘scam­mish be­hav­iours’ but I can at­test to you that CTES is not a com­pany that any­one or gov­ern­ment should be afraid to come to or work with. So, we still keep push­ing on and have been strong and are grounded in our be­liefs that when the time comes, that we will have demon­strated the con­fi­dence and will be able to ne­go­ti­ate and li­aise or syn­er­gise with the gov­ern­ment. We hope in the fu­ture that we can cre­ate some kind of value chain where com­pa­nies come in or con­tracts and we have the op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with them and help…,” he added.

Davis ex­plained that Cen­tury Group is a mul­ti­op­er­a­tional com­pany, with in­ter­ests and ex­per­tise in the full value chain of the oil and gas in­dus­try and non-en­ergy sec­tor in Nige­ria. It has seven main sub­sidiaries: Cen­tury Ex­plo­ration and Pro­duc­tion Lim­ited, Cen­tury Ports and Ter­mi­nal Lim­ited, Cen­tury En­ergy Ser­vices Lim­ited, Cen­tury Data In­te­grated Ser­vices Lim­ited, Cen­tury Real Es­tate and Lo­gis­tics, Elmina Petroleum Lim­ited and Global Man­ning Re­sources Lim­ited.

“Our par­ent com­pany pro­vides cus­tomised tech­ni­cal en­ergy so­lu­tions as well as all it takes to achieve our clients’ set ob­jec­tives and has a ro­bust work force and vast net­work of part­ner­ships geared to­wards the de­liv­ery of our prom­ise to cre­ate value, en­able peo­ple and solve prob­lems,” Davis said.

“We also op­er­ate and main­tain FPSOs [float­ing pro­duc­tion stor­age and of­fload­ing units]... We have four FPSOs that are un­der con­tract with Cen­tury and a float sta­tion, four swamp sta­tions, and one FSO. We do a lot of pro­cure­ment of goods and ser­vices [to meet] the needs of the FPSOs. Cen­tury Ports and Ter­mi­nals, they con­trol one of the largest ports, built by Shell, op­er­ate and main­tain on be­half of Shell and pri­vate com­pa­nies that come to that port to be ser­viced. All are in dif­fer­ent oil fields in Nige­ria. We pro­vide sup­ply chain man­age­ment, drilling and sup­port ser­vices, engi­neer­ing, con­struc­tion ser­vices and full field man­age­ment,” he added.

Con­fi­dent that their op­er­a­tions are above board, Davis says that any­one can go on­line and re­search him, the com­pany’s em­ploy­ees and their par­ent com­pany and will have a full understanding of where “we have come from and where we are.”

Davis ex­plained that he feels a deep sense of per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for get­ting the stigma erased as he was one of the main rea­sons why the um­brella com­pany, Cen­tury Group, de­cided on part­ner­ing with CTES.

“I was born and raised in Guyana but stud­ied in Canada [and] mar­ried into an oil and gas fam­ily. I de­cided to pick this up here due to Guyana’s need. You know, as a Guyanese I felt it is my sole re­spon­si­bil­ity to bring Cen­tury here. The rea­son why it was so easy was be­cause my wife’s par­ents are the sole owner of the Cen­tury Group,” he said.

“Cen­tury Ta­mara En­ergy Ser­vices was solely ini­ti­ated on be­half of my­self as I felt there was a high need of oil and gas per­son­nel be­cause of our lack of knowl­edge in the area ex­per­tise ...I felt it was my need of in­cor­po­rat­ing this com­pany here as we part­ner with a com­pany that has 26 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence. CTES is solely built in a way that it will be 100% Guyanese in a short space of time. All the em­ploy­ees that will be em­ployed will be Guyanese and that is what we hope to do we would like to repli­cate the same suc­cess plan that Cen­tury [Nige­ria] has,” he said, while not­ing that 95% of the um­brella group com­pany’s 2,000 em­ploy­ees are Nige­rian.

Davis was quick to

point out that with the lo­cal com­pany only es­tab­lished here last year, it was go­ing to take time be­fore it gets con­tracts.“It is what hap­pens with the new kid on the block,” he added.

Davis cred­its his wife’s fam­ily for the op­por­tu­ni­ties af­forded to him as he pointed out that his wife’s en­tire fam­ily com­prises ac­tive in­vestors in up­stream and down­stream oil busi­nesses in La­gos, Nige­ria and when he showed in­ter­est in the sec­tor fol­low­ing his grad­u­a­tion from uni­ver­sity in Canada, they wel­comed him, pro­vid­ing him with hands on ex­pe­ri­ence with their op­er­a­tions.

See­ing a de­mand for ser­vices sim­i­lar to those of­fered by the com­pa­nies of his in­laws, Davis lob­bied them to in­vest in Guyana and Nige­rian busi­ness­man Ken­neth Te­tee was per­suaded. Davis was ap­pointed the busi­ness de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer for Guyana, Trinidad and Brazil and has con­trol over the Cen­tury Group’s op­er­a­tions in the Amer­i­cas.

Davis is con­fi­dent that soon com­pa­nies will be turn­ing to CTES. “We have to present our­selves in a way that is a sole Guyanese en­tity as well with hav­ing all the com­po­nents. With these cor­po­rate giants that have al­ready started op­er­at­ing and will con­tinue within Guyana, such as the likes of Exxon , Chevron, Rep­sol, Eco …and most of the sub-con­trac­tors - the Sch­lum­berg­ers, the Hal­libur­tons… we are try­ing demon­strate that we here in Guyana will have what they want. We have ap­proached some and have tried to ac­quire some kind of con­tracts and we be­lieve that be­cause we are late within the Guyana mar­ket, that we will have some ‘grow­ing pains’ to go through, but we will con­tinue driv­ing for suc­cess,” he said.

He also noted that he and his part­ners have reached out to and had meet­ings with sev­eral com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing here. “We have had meet­ings with Exxon, the likes of Rep­sol, CGX, JHI, Mid-At­lantic Oil and Gas …we have great ap­pre­ci­a­tion for where we have come and we see no prob­lem gain­ing fu­ture con­tracts, but we came in late [and so] we are work­ing on our build­ing blocks [so] that when there are new con­tracts, we are poised. We are not just here but we are align­ing our­selves, you know, get­ting face to face and in­ter­per­sonal recog­ni­tion to say ‘we are CTES and are here to stay and help, develop and build the oil and gas sec­tor in Guyana in any way pos­si­ble that we can help,’” he noted.

In the short term, the com­pany has ad­ver­tised for a busi­ness man­ager but Davis noted that it would wel­come ap­pli­ca­tions from in­ter­ested per­sons for oil and gas field work so that when an op­por­tu­nity arises it would be pre­pared.

“In the short term, it is just a busi­ness man­ager in the oil and gas [field], one who can help with the de­liv­er­ies of CTES. But long-term we [will] look at cre­at­ing a man­power sup­ply agency for the big com­pa­nies like Exxon and the rest. When those op­por­tu­ni­ties come, we will be look­ing for welders, elec­tri­cal en­gi­neers, me­chan­i­cal tech­ni­cians, cooks, sea divers and such. Of course, we can­not prom­ise any­one any­thing with­out se­cur­ing a con­tract, but we do ac­cept re­sumes,” he said “We have cre­ated a ma­trix that we be­lieve will work within the Guyana wa­ters, be­cause we be­lieve that be­cause of our cur­rent as­sets, where we can then bring in in­struc­tors which will be eco­nom­i­cal and take them on the ground for train­ing in Brazil, the Gulf of Mex­ico and Nige­ria, that we have an ad­van­tage. Yes, Guyana has a lack of ex­pe­ri­ence, but the good thing is we have a lot of tech­ni­cians … which are skills needed ev­ery­where. Our peo­ple have lots of skill sets and the ba­sic knowl­edge of many other things. Once they have that, is just to get them up to speed with how it func­tions in oil and gas and fos­ter­ing in them the need to be safety ori­ented. So, we have more than enough able bod­ies and it is just to put them in that oil and gas set­ting to get the safety and other stan­dards up to par. We will be more than will­ing once we are given the op­por­tu­nity to pro­duce our train­ing ma­trix that takes them to on the job train­ing,” he added.

Shel­don Davis

The CTES Of­fice on Camp Street, Ge­orge­town

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