Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Lilian Chatterjee sees a bright future ahead for the soon-to-be oil producing South American country and is making it clear that Canada is looking to help and not exploit Guyana.
Speaking at the launch of Caribbean Safework Solutions (CSSI) on Wednesday evening at Cara Lodge in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, the High Commissioner said a number of similarities exist between Guyana and the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Following the collapse of the cod fishery during the early 1990s, the province suffered record unemployment rates and the population decreased by roughly 60,000. Following major offshore discoveries, the provincial economy has had a major turnaround since the turn of the 21st century. Unemployment rates decreased and the population stabilized and had moderate growth. The province has gained record surpluses, which has rid it of its status as a “have not” province.
“It is only when they found offshore oil was it an opportunity for Newfoundland to build back its industry. It’s been more than oil and gas, it has totally transformed Newfoundland. It’s taken thirty years, but the Newfoundland of today is not the Newfoundland pre-oil and gas,” the High Commissioner said.
She pointed out that Guyanese may still not be fully aware of the drastic impact the emerging petroleum industry is about to have on the country. “I don’t think you are ready to know how drastically you are going to change and we in Canada are here to help you, not to exploit you, but to help you prepare for hopefully all the good things that are going to happen. There will be other challenges as well, but we want to help you prepare so that you can realize the same prosperity that Newfoundland has realized.”
CSSI is a partnership between Caribbean Surgery Inc. of Guyana and Safe Work Solutions of Canada and is the first internationally recognized Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) firm to establish operations in Guyana. CSSI was founded by Dr. Surendra Persaud and his wife Savina Persaud of Caribbean Surgery, and Jeffery Daniels and his Wife Wendy Daniels, of Safe Work Solutions.
Speaking at the launch, Dr. Surendra Persaud said the oil and gas industry has the potential to impact every Guyanese but an understanding of what is expected is necessary if much needed changes in the way business is done in the South American country is to occur.
“We will need to find methods to fast-track our ability to meet the needs of this industry. This industry is very different. It doesn’t have the patience that we’ve been accustomed to. Those of us trying to work in this industry need to recognize that we need to change to what the industry wants,” he stated.
In his remarks, Daniels said when he was asked to come to Guyana, he had a look at what the country was all about and found that there were a lot of similarities between it and Newfoundland. Finding the right partner was key, he said, and the collaboration with Dr. Persaud has been a positive step in the right direction with the formation of CSSI.
“One of the key elements of what we do as a company is in a consulting and training components, we’re heavily focused on practical elements. It’s ok for me to take somebody here and train them in something and even give them equipment to do it. But if I don’t show them how to use that equipment then basically it’s for nothing,” he said.
Safe Work Solutions has over 98,000 people trained around the world over four continents and fifteen countries. Daniels said the company’s success has been based on a small group of competent and committed staff and the idea is to have this group help in the building of CSSI.
CSSI will be offering a range of services that include system auditing (ISO 14001:2015/18001:2007), radiation management/NORMS, specialist in marine confined space management and on-site gas detection, emergency response plan audit and analysis, PPE inspection, evaluation and application and extensive knowledge of contaminated site identification, evaluation and remediation.