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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Competitors for oil and gas contracts are shrewd, Guyanese companies must learn to adapt – President Ali urges

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Guyana’s Head of State, Dr. Irfaan Ali disclosed on Wednesday that local content provisions will be put in place to ensure competitive services provided by Guyanese will be given priority by oil companies.

During his latest engagement with reporters, President Ali was keen to note that his government will be providing support via training and certification to ensure Guyanese companies are able to meet the standards expected in the petroleum industry. Further to this, he expressed his belief that once local capacity exists in-country, there is no reason why Guyanese should not be given first preference. “There is no negotiation about this, and we should not be second-guessing this,” the President said.

While the government would be providing support to boost local businesses’ capacity, the Head of State shared that local companies have to change the way they compete in the industry. In this regard, he said local businesses need to understand the nature of other participants in the industry and adapt accordingly.

“We have to understand, our competitors are sophisticated and shrewd, they have years of experience and they know the corners,” Mr. Ali stated. “In Guyana, we have a history of family-owned businesses and we don’t have a history of consortium type of activity…I have said this to the private sector, local companies need to enter into partnerships with each other.”

Additionally, the President said there needs to be a frank discussion with oil companies about the services they require and over what period of time. He said this should be followed by an assessment of where the local capabilities are at the time along with identifying what would be needed to fill the gap in the shortest possible time.

At the end of the day, the President said all and sundry must be realistic about the country’s position in terms of its ability to fulfill the needs of the sector.

This very point was recently underscored by Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo in a previous interview.

Further to President Ali’s point, Jagdeo said the government is interested in seeing certain jobs carved out and/or reserved only for locals. He said, “…Our people cannot build the FPSO, but we can build houses to rent so that will be carved out in the policy for us.” Along with rentals, the Vice President said it is the government’s hope that services such as cleaning, domestic work, and the provision of food supplies would be provided 100 percent from Guyanese.

The Vice President said, “…We want to make sure we get this done correctly and the companies, we are not putting undue burden on them. As we build capacity so too would the percentage for local content targets, so it is not a one-off thing.”

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