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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Big opportunities for farmers in Guyana’s oil and gas sector, supplies already going offshore

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The offshore exploration and production operations in Guyana have been creating growing opportunities for suppliers of goods and services, including those outside the oil and gas industry. In fact, since the first discovery in 2015 when it became apparent that Guyana was on its way to becoming an oil producing nation, it was said that the spin-off effects of the industry would see opportunities being created across other sectors.

In a recent appearance on a local television show, ExxonMobil Guyana’s Local Content Advisor, Devon Seeram, reminded that the oil and gas industry is not labour intensive but is creating growing opportunities in other areas such as agriculture. He said there is much scope for farmers to provide supplies to offshore operations and urged that they aim to meet the high standards of the industry which put special emphasis on quality produce.

“I think a lot of people want to get into the industry but then there are also businesses that know about the industry and realise that ‘Hey, what I’m doing which is outside and supporting the industry is good enough for me,” he said. “Not everyone can supply to our major contractors or directly to ExxonMobil but in a tiered approach, they can come under the subcontractors and benefit there.”

Seeram emphasised the ripple effect benefits of the sector, saying, “If you’re a farmer, you could be supplying to maybe the offshore vessels and such. It’s not that you have to be directly involved.”

Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE) are among the key pillars of the industry and for suppliers of food products, this is even more important.

“It requires a higher standard, but you have to think about it. It’s something that someone is consuming at the end of the day, 120 miles offshore so it has to be towards that standard. You don’t want people getting sick offshore or causing unnecessary delays. So, that’s the way we would have to think about that. So, standards are important,” Seeram highlighted.

The Guyana government is also keen on ensuring that farmers benefit from the sector. Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat is on record as saying that they are looking to ensure local farmers supply goods to the vessels operating offshore.

“It’s not only about direct proceeds coming from oil and gas, but if we can build strong local content where even a farmer can benefit from the oil and gas industry, where the produce from a farm could reach the FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel) and onto these offshore boats and other equipment, that would be the goal,” he has said.

In fact, farmers are already benefiting from the industry and are supplying the offshore vessels. Last year, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between SBM Offshore, the builder and operator of the Liza Destiny FPSO, Guyanese-owned Plympton Farms, which is located along the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, and Newrest Guyana, the catering company that services the FPSO.

Through the support of SBM Offshore, Plympton Farms has been ramping up production of fresh fruits and vegetables for the crew of the Liza Destiny FPSO, and future vessels to come. The project is also creating employment for Guyanese, particularly those living in and around the community where the farm is located.

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