SINCE the rapid rise of oil and gas development in Guyana, there have been questions about what role Guyanese people and companies would play. After all, we do not have experience with this very technical field.
Yet, in just a few short years, there are many examples of how our people and our companies are vital to the success of the world’s newest oil and gas producer. And it is not just engineering firms that have something to offer. Indeed the economic “ripple effect” flowing from the offshore production facility and drill ships is being felt in many areas here onshore and offshore.
This ripple effect encompasses businesses that have emerged, retooled their services, or expanded existing offerings and invested in their people for this new industry. They would not have had these opportunities if oil had not been discovered off our shores and companies did not spend billions of dollars to build up the infrastructure to bring that oil to market.
In fact, it is quite remarkable to see how quickly Guyanese have established a niche in oil and gas. When ExxonMobil first discovered oil in the Stabroek block in 2015, less than 100 Guyanese vendors were employed supporting the industry. In 2019, that number grew to more than 700. More than GYD $52 billion dollars were spent directly on Guyanese goods and services and more than 2,000 Guyanese are employed by entities supporting oil and gas development.
As we have seen, Guyanese companies such as Atlantic Marine Services, Mine Services Limited, Fernandes Energy Inc., Guyson’s Oil and Gas, SRS Recruiting and even Maggie’s Snackette have all gained a toehold in the nascent industry. These companies have worked hard to build capacity and stretch their offerings to be able to provide goods, services, and materials to the industry.
International companies like Exxon and their big contractors have very strict safety standards and regimented process and procedures so the Guyanese companies who have garnered work have proven they could compete with companies from the around the world.
To build local capacity and help Guyanese companies, the Centre for Local Business Development has played a pivotal role. Funded by Exxon and its co-venturers, the Centre is a reliable resource for information on safety, technical standards, procurement opportunities, and project-specific information. And it provides mentoring to assist firms joining the oil and gas sector or help their companies become more competitive in other sectors.
One Guyanese company to make use of the Centre’s programmes is Fernandes Energy, a long time service and logistics provider based in Georgetown. On a recent video on ExxonMobil Guyana’s Facebook page, Jeremy Fernandes relates how his company epitomizes the ripple effect. He explained that upon signing contracts with Exxon and its contractors, his company utilizes other local Guyanese companies for good and services. “We believe in a better Guyana built for Guyanese by Guyanese. We want to bring home as much of the industry as we can,” Jeremy said.