Gov’t appoints new oil & gas adviser

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Matthew Wilks, Oil and Gas Adviser in the Department of Energy

AS government moves to strengthen its petroleum management department ahead of first oil, it announced on Tuesday the appointment of Matthew Wilks, an experienced senior oil and gas business developer and negotiator, as Oil and Gas Adviser in the Department of Energy within the Ministry of the Presidency.

Wilks has 32 years of experience in the global oil and gas industry, spanning all segments of the energy value chain including exploration and production, liquid natural gas, pipeline transportation, power generation, and project financing, the ministry said in a release. Wilks previously held management responsibility for international asset management and joint venture operations. During his career, he has worked for, or opposite, several heads of state, other senior government officials and senior corporate executives.

According to the ministry, Wilks, who will be based in Georgetown, has worked in Asia, East Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and South America, and had corporate portfolio responsibility for assets in Central Asia, the Levant, and North Africa.
Most recently, Wilks was Chief Commercial Officer at Maersk Oil, where he was involved in projects in Angola, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Norway, and Qatar.

Before that, Mr. Wilks worked at BG Group where he was Country Manager for Tanzania at the time of significant offshore discoveries and rapid sector development there. He worked on projects in Bolivia, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and Thailand, also at BG Group. Born in Australia, and grew up in Kenya, Wilks the ministry said, earned a BSc Tripartite in mathematics, physics, and chemistry and a BSc Hons in applied physics from Robert Gordons University, Aberdeen. The Department of Energy (DOE) recently also advertised for an office manager and accountant as well as a procurement officer and confidential secretary.

Meanwhile, only last month government appointed economist Dr. Mark Bynoe as the head of the Department of Energy. In defending his selection President David Granger had said that Dr. Bynoe has the necessary intelligence and experience to best manage the impending oil sector. “We had been researching and we decided on a person who is experienced not necessarily in petroleum but who has the intelligence and the experience to find people who are experienced and who can administer that important industry,” President Granger said.

President Granger said of Dr. Bynoe “he knows he doesn’t do everything but he knows where to find people who know enough to make that sector functional and we feel that he is a fit and proper person to do that.” The Department of Energy was gazetted with effect from August 1st, 2018 which means that its responsibility was formally transferred from the Ministry of Natural Resources to the Ministry of the Presidency. This transfer comes following the recommendation of Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, which led to Cabinet’s examining of the state of the industry for the last seven months.

Bynoe has taken over the duties of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Petroleum Unit and has the responsibility of embarking on a “four phase programme” for the establishment of the department. The first two phases include administration through which Bynoe will assemble a team to work in the department and rationalisation which will ensure the efficiency of the new department. Speaking on the second phase, the President said:

“There is a Petroleum Unit in the Ministry of Natural Resources and there may be other persons in the Government of Guyana right now who have experience in that sector, so some parts of some ministries may have to be transferred to the Department of Energy.”
The third stage includes the operationalisation of the department while the final stage of implementation, the President predicts, will begin by the beginning of September. “A lot of work has to be done. We have to advertise for experts all over the world and we have to look at drafting legislation, we have to look at financing and we have to look at all other aspects of the operationalisation of the department,” he added.

President Granger hopes that during the month of August the parties working to achieve this will accomplish much more than they were able to in that last seven months. Bynoe is an Environment and Resource Economist and the former head of the Project Development and Management Unit of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

He is the holder of several academic degrees including a Doctorate, Masters and Bachelor’s degree as well as a Postgraduate Diploma and other certificates mainly in the areas of Environmental Economics, Resource Management and Monitoring and Evaluation. In his position as head of the Department of Energy he will receive direct guidance from the President as he works to place specialised attention on the petroleum sector and the management of its resources.