‘Deafening silence’ on opportunities for Trinidadians in oil & gas sector – Ramnarine

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For a country with over 110 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, it is an unfortunate fact that talk of Trinidad and Tobago’s local content capacity have become nearly non-existent. This is the view of the twin-island republic’s former Minister of Energy, Kevin Ramnarine, writing in a recent column published on OilNOW.

In recent times, Ramnarine pointed out that the topic of local content has received “deafening silence”, no longer afforded precedence at conferences or even seminars relating to the sector.

This sends a dangerous message, according to Ramnarine, that it is okay to ignore the skill base and resources that are offered by the country and can lead to devastating consequences.

“One consequence is the loss of human capital. Many energy sector professionals and their families have migrated in recent years due to a lack of opportunity in T&T,” he pointed out. “This is unfortunate for a country with over 110 years in the oil and gas business where billions have been invested to educate young people.”

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The former T&T government official also pointed to a “momentum slip” of local content in the country.

“Far too often we hear stories of work that could be done by local companies that has gone to foreign service providers [and] when that happens, there is value leakage – dividends do not stay in T&T for reinvestment,” he explained further.

Ramnarine recalled the success of Trinidad’s local fabrication industry at La Brea, which provided spin-off work for many other companies, and directly and indirectly employed hundreds.

“And there have been other successes as T&T firms like Tucker Energy can hold their own with the best in the world,” he pointed out; these talents are now left wasted.

But efforts can be made to reclaim that top position. Ramnarine advised that Trinidad and Suriname take a page from Guyana’s local content book, where the government has been pushing to ensure maximum participation by its citizens.

Guyana’s Local Content law was introduced in December last year; it paved the way for local companies and citizens to participate in 40 critical areas in the oil sector which government and a number of private sector stakeholders say will ensure international oil companies and their contractors utilise more local services and products.

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