DEMERARA Distillers Ltd (DDL) has earned for itself the reputation of quietly pioneering new industries, helping in import substitution, earning much needed foreign exchange and providing employment for hundreds. Among the industries which DDL had conceptualised and created are Paper recycling done today by Caribbean Containers Ltd to produce cardboard boxes used by manufacturers; production of genuine fermented vinegar which replaced the diluted acetic acid passed off as vinegar; dry ice for the fishing industry; yeast; Co2 gas used in the aerated drinks industry; a rum-based fruit cake mix which is widely used by pastry makers, both locally and abroad and so on.
Whatever goods and services DDL produces have the reputation of being of the highest quality and world-class and the Company was among the first in Guyana to achieve ISO ratings. A good example of the quality of products DDL offers is its El Dorado Rums. These rums are universally acknowledged to be the best rums in the world and have consistently won every notable international prize. The El Dorado rums are an achievement of both national and historical importance: They have won for Guyana the same flavour of prestige which Scotland enjoys as the producer of whiskeys and they are the culmination of the perfection of rum which rum producers have been striving to achieve for over 300 years.
The creativity and remarkable success which DDL has achieved was not adventitious but is attributed to Dr Yesu Persaud and his successor Mr Komal Samaroo, two unique CEOs and leaders. Both leaders have been supported by a staff who are known Caribbean-wide as high-level performers. It was, therefore, no surprise when it was recently announced that DDL would be entering the Oil and Gas Sector through its newly formed subsidiary Demerara Offshore Inc.
Oil and Gas is a distinctly new industry in Guyana and indeed, there are comparatively few countries in the world where the industry exists. DDL, accordingly, in its well known and well-tried style, did not enter the Industry precipitately but did so after thorough research into the various aspects of the Industry, built up international industrial contacts and cultivated relationships with world-leading products, finally entering into partnership with Caribbean Welding Supplies Ltd (CWSL), a Trinidad-based company very experienced in the Oil and Gas industry. Actually, it was the DDL subsidiary Demerara Contractors and Engineering Ltd (DCEL) and Trinidad’s CWSL which partnered in the joint venture to create Demerara Offshore Incorporated.
At the launching of Demerara Offshore Inc, DDL detailed the main activities of the Company: “Demerara Offshore Inc will be providing a wide range of services to the Oil and Gas Sector, that includes the development of a world-class shore-based facility, welding and fabrication, electrical, mechanical, instrumentation, blasting and painting, specialised coating, non-destructive testing and inspection, valve repairs, pressure testing, waste management and disposal, catering, equipment rental and human resource development”. The services which Demerara Offshore are offering are not only comprehensive but more competitive than foreign-based companies could offer.
Mr Komal Samaroo, as Chairman of both DDL and Demerara Offshore Inc, visualised the national and patriotic benefit which DOI could bring by earning foreign exchange for the nation, by “nativising” the Oil and Gas Sector and by training a large number of Guyanese in the technology and other needs of the Oil and Gas Sector. In Mr Samaroo’s words:. . .”We hope we can add to the local content of the Oil and Gas Sector through the various contracts we will be entering into and through the development of the human skills in the country to meet the standards required by the Industry . . . Demerara Offshore will bring real value-added opportunities to Guyanese and the Guyana economy. Through our partnerships with companies providing world-leading products and services, Demerara Offshore will leverage substantial knowledge and expertise to develop the Guyanese capacity”.
Mr Nigel Bennet the CEO of CWSL, in his remarks at the launching of Demerara Offshore Inc, was congratulatory to DDL and looked forward to the Industry being “Guyanised”. Mr Bennet remarked:. . .”In Trinidad and Tobago, given our long industrial and Oil experience, we have a lot to offer Guyana as our CARICOM family. We are delighted to support our lead partner DDL. This is an initiative for Guyana’s development and DDL has a long history of serving this country . . . The efforts of Demerara Offshore will allow for the development of both the technologies and the human resources required for the development of the Guyana Oil and Gas Industry. It is important that Guyanese themselves are trained and prepared to take the Sector forward with Guyanese character”.
We are confident that Demerara Offshore would be a catalyst for other Guyanese companies to enter the Oil and Gas Sector and they could now do so more quickly since Demerara Offshore would have provided them with the organisational template for such new companies. The Guyanese business and entrepreneurial community should not allow the opportunities offered by the Oil and Gas Sector to slip out of their hands to foreign-based companies.