THE sod was turned on Tuesday for the US$300 Million Vreed-en-Hoop shore-base facility which is expected to play a major role in transforming Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) into a major player in Guyana’s oil-and-gas sector.
Officials and community members on Tuesday afternoon gathered for the historic turning of the sod at the site for the intended project at Vreed-en-Hoop, on the West Coast Demerara.
A consortium of businesses, now known as NRG Holdings, had signed the US$300 million contract in April to construct the facility.
The consortium includes gold miner Andron Alphonso of ZRN Investment Inc.; Azruddin Mohamed of HADI’S World Incorporated; and Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer of National Hardware Guyana Limited.
The Vreed-en-Hoop Shorebase Inc. (VEHSI) is a joint venture between NRG Holdings Inc., which is a one-hundred-per-cent Guyanese-owned consortium, and Jan De Nul, an international maritime infrastructure company.
According to Deygoo-Boyer, who serves as Director of NRG Holdings, the group is proud to have been able to witness the historic sod turning, and to bring some portion of the oil-and-gas sector and its opportunities to Region Three.
He said that the event, which marks the commencement of the construction of the shore-base facility, is the culmination of lots of hard work by the consortium.
In brief remarks at the event, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar said that the reported 43 acres facility that will be used for oil-and-gas operations, among other things, will bring significant benefits to the region.
“It will make this region a hub, just as Region Four is. I believe that it will also drive huge economic spin-offs into different industries,” he said.
He said that while there is not an inch of shore space remaining in the East Bank area, it is only natural for businesses to seek out shore space in Region Three.
This, he said, will add to the current drive of development taking place in the region, among them infrastructural development projects such as new roads, massive highways, and even the Wales gas-to-energy project.
Noting that the construction of the shore-base facility is a special project that will also create jobs, Minister Indar urged those businesses involved in it to ensure that persons from the surrounding communities are dutifully employed during the execution phase.
Also making remarks at the event was Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat, who commended the move by the consortium to invest in Region Three, and to form a joint ventureship, a call which the government had made previously.
“I think they must be commended for taking this initiative and answering the call of our government to form consortiums and form joint ventures so that Guyanese can invest in the oil and gas sector,” Minister Bharrat said.
As such, he highlighted that the oil-and-gas industry is a capital-intensive one that requires a lot of start-up capital to be able to invest in the sector.
He said that while access to capital is one of the main challenges for the local private sector, one sure way of overcoming this is by forming partnerships.
“This is what is happening today with these three Guyanese young entrepreneurs who are taking this bold initiative to form this consortium, and to partner with the international company, which, obviously, has the expertise and the knowledge to go about constructing the facility, and to ensure that Guyanese, too, benefit from the oil-and-gas sector,” Minister Indar said.
Meanwhile, President of Exxon Mobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge, who shared similar sentiments as the minister, noted that it is a key milestone for the development of the administrative region. He further noted that it is important to Exxon Mobil, Hess, and CNOOC that the development of the natural resources of Guyana is enjoyed by the people of the country.