US supermajor ExxonMobil officially declared open its Centre for Local Business Development in Georgetown, Guyana, on Thursday. This new facility will assist small and medium-sized Guyanese businesses with building their capacity and improving their competitiveness in the oil and gas industry.
Country Manager, Rod Henson, speaking at the opening ceremony, said the much-anticipated facility represents a “great day” and is a sign of a “key and very visible element” of ExxonMobil’s strategy to provide opportunities for Guyanese businesses to participate in the oil and gas industry.
“It is really important to us at ExxonMobil as well as our partners (Hess and Nexen), to always be moving forward to work more and more with local talent,” he said.
The Country Manager was quick to point out that the centre was built in just over two months utilizing 100% local input. “This centre itself was outfitted in just over two months with a hundred percent Guyanese companies, from design to build-out…even the furniture you see is one hundred percent Guyanese,” he stated.
The centre will assist small and medium-sized businesses with their capacity building and improve their competitiveness, Henson said, adding that local suppliers are critical to ExxonMobil’s long-term success in the industry.
Noting that the process unfolding represents a “marathon and not a sprint”, Mr. Henson said, “Some companies may not win tenders in this first round, but the Liza project is gonna be around for decades, and so maybe they will win tenders the next time when we retender every few years.”
Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, also speaking at the opening of the centre, extended appreciation to ExxonMobil and its partners for keeping their commitment to the Government and people of Guyana. “We have been working steadily over the last two years to bring the Liza project into a state of production well into 2020 and beyond,” Mr. Trotman said. He noted that apart from all of the technical and other work that is being focused on, the issue of local content is sometimes a hidden factor “that we tend to forget.”
The natural resources minister said he recognizes that there is a large body of businesses and entrepreneurs in Guyana that are eager to find out how they can be part of the oil and gas industry. He said he has urged ExxonMobil and its partners to take the concept of the business centre beyond the confines of the Georgetown building so that they can be activities in all ten Regions of Guyana. “Have little workshops in Essequibo and in Berbice and in Linden and in Rupununui, and all ten Regions of Guyana, so while you may have a store front here, it is important that you not confine yourselves to this one location,” he said, adding that everyone is welcomed to “come and find out how he or she may become involved.”
The initial focus of the centre will be to develop local vendors that will serve the key sectors in the oil and gas industry. These include areas such as safety equipment, marine operation, civil construction, warehousing, spare parts management, and catering services. The idea is to have the centre evolve over time to serve other sectors of the economy, such ICT, mining, forestry and agriculture.
ExxonMobil, Hess and Nexen will fund the centre for the first three years, by which time it is expected that the centre would be fully self-sustainable.
The US supermajor collaborated with DAI Global, LLC in the establishment of the centre. DAI specializes in local content and socio-economic development globally. The company’s Representative, Patrick Henry, said it has put together a team to work on this project, which includes a number of Guyanese entities such as the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) Ltd. (Guyana), BrainStreet Group and EMPRETEC Guyana.
IPED will conduct training courses on financial management, project management and human resource management while EMPRETEC will deliver its internationally certified supply chain management course in September. BrainStreet is developing specialized software for the project that will serve as the online face of the centre, and DAI will be conducting safety, health and environmental introductory courses in August.
ExxonMobil’s Centre for Local Business Development comes at a time when the issue of local content and the involvement of Guyanese businesses in the emerging oil and gas industry have taken centre-stage in the country. The centre, located at the IPED building on South Road, Georgetown, is mandated to address some of the very concerns that have been raised by the local private sector. It is expected to immediately begin providing services in the country.