THE steady growth in the oil and gas sector means that more than 1,000 local companies have been able to participate in the oil and gas economy. Achieving this feat is not just a matter of technical or specialised skills, but also helping companies adhere to the robust safety practices and standards necessary to safeguard workers and the environment.
Effective training and worker development programmes are central to maximising and capturing the most value from Guyana’s natural resources while protecting the environment. Helping local companies work towards international-level safety and quality certifications is vital in an industry like oil and gas. Because oil companies build complex engineering projects in some of the world’s most challenging environments, the safety standards they require from contractors are very high.
As the industry has grown, so have the safety offerings to businesses operating in the sector. Companies can already take advantage of training opportunities and certification programmes through the industry-funded Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD). The CLBD has been instrumental for the business community by prioritising capacity-building and providing guidance for companies that want to get involved. Since 2017, the Centre has conducted seminars for over 4,500 participants, cultivated over 750 oil and gas sector vendors, and delivered Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) training and certification programmes to over 310 businesses.
Last month, OPITO, a global, not-for-profit skills body for the energy industry granted certification to 3t EnerMech’s Training Centre of Excellence at Lusignan on the East Coast Demerara. The new courses on offer at the Lusignan facility include the Tropical Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET), Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) and Further Offshore Emergency Training (FOET) with Compressed Air Emergency Breathing System (CA-EBS). With the globally recognised certification, the centre can now effectively train offshore workers in the skill areas necessary to maintain safety.
All these measures are part of the delicate balance of marrying rapid development with strong local involvement and careful safety measures. For Guyana, the incentive for a fast pace of development is clear – the global transition away from fossil fuels is imminent. Moving quickly means more near-term revenues, while multiple projects back-to-back mean economies of scale that bring down costs and create momentum for local companies, and developing a skilled workforce.
In November, CLBD held its HSSE Management System Awards which celebrated the 30 companies that have completed the programmes this year. This is part of a wider push to improve the safety culture for firms looking to join the oil and gas space and ensure that they are ready to operate at the demanding levels of precision needed.
Dr. Natasha Gaskin-Peters, the Centre’s Director, who spoke at the event, highlighted that “[the] creation of an HSSE Management System in your businesses will not only help you to better compete for contracts in the oil and gas industry, but in other diverse sectors.”
Local companies receiving training are now in a positive position to leverage the local content provisions to succeed.
We are already seeing this policy pay off, according to the Head of Guyana’s Local Content Secretariat, Dr. Martin Pertab. He explained to attendees that the oil and gas sector has exceeded its 2022 targets for the training and hiring of Guyanese in this lucrative and growing sector.
By June, the contractors and sub-contractors in Guyana’s oil and gas industry spent US$3.3 million (GYD$691,243,410) on training locals, surpassing the US$1.8 million (GYD$377,041,860) target by around 80 per-cent. Companies committed to hiring over 800 locals for the industry this year—a number they also surpassed in June, with more than 850 locals hired in the first half of 2022. Year-end numbers are expected to show similar growth.
It is clear that even though there is still a long way to go, Guyanese are being equipped with the right tools to be able to safely and effectively participate in the industry. These extensive investments in training programmes can help create a culture of safety that is crucial to long-term success of the industry and strong local participation.