Saturday, July 2, 2022

Capitalising on networking opportunities

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By A. Bacchus

In early 2018, I was fortunate enough to attend the first oil and gas conference and exhibition that was held in Guyana. At that point in time, ExxonMobil had made about six viable discoveries, and it was while seated in the conference hall that it really dawned on me how potentially significant Guyana’s position as an oil producing nation could be. All around, representatives from foreign companies sat listening intently to presentations and panel discussions on Guyana’s trajectory in the industry. By the end of that conference, a number of local companies had entered into joint ventures and partnerships with some of these foreign companies. Then, the next year when the conference returned, some of those very participants from 2019 had returned, this time as exhibitors.

Notably, in 2019, I interacted with two Guyanese companies that had recently been established. When asked about the reason for their participation, they underscored the importance of networking. Networking—not in the sense of just meeting and becoming acquainted with other business executives—but networking with the investors who are coming to Guyana to understand what they are entering the market to do and what services they would need, and how local companies could introduce or adapt existing services to cater to the demands that would arise. Today, one of the companies that had just set up shop in 2019, is providing services to at least three of ExxonMobil’s prime contractors.

Less than two months ago, President Irfaan Ali had implored local businesses to look beyond the traditional family-oriented operations and examine the possibility of entering into partnerships in order to access larger ‘slices of the pie’. There are mechanisms for an entity that desires to follow this path to access information on other companies and investors such as the Guyana Office for Investment, the Centre for Local Business Development, and events such as the Supplier Development Forum that is usually held by ExxonMobil.

Then, there are other opportunities which may not be as obvious to us. In December, it was announced that Chairman of ExxonMobil Corporation, Darren Woods, and several heads of states would be attending the International Energy Conference that is scheduled for later this month in Georgetown. I recently saw social commentary on the event, dubbing it an opportunity for the bourgeoise, with no room for local or small businesses. However, what was intentionally or inadvertently left undisclosed in this commentary is the fact that Guyanese can participate in the exhibition at a very affordable price that makes it easily accessible. In fact, several local businesses have confirmed their participation.

Today, there are over 27 viable discoveries offshore Guyana, with the Stabroek Block resource base pegged at over 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil resources. This means that the industry will continue to rapidly expand. This is an opportunity that goes beyond handshakes and coffee. This is a chance for local businesses that are looking to embed themselves in the industry to learn about the operators and contractors in the sector. This is an opportunity to benefit from projections on where the industry is headed in Guyana and where the potential entry points to the supply chain are. This is also an opportunity to create the linkages for partnerships that are mutually beneficial.


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