The Vreed-en-Hoop Shore Base Inc. (VESHI) is moving closer to reality as company and other officials on Tuesday turned the sod to mark the start of construction on the US$300 million venture.
Due to inclement weather, a planned large ceremony was curtailed. Instead, officials conducted the activity with mostly members of the community witnessing the momentous occasion, held at Plantation Best, West Bank Demerara, the entrance to what will be the landmark facility.
The area now is mostly sand and mangroves but by 2024, the touted start-up date, a fully-fledged, state-of-the-art shore base facility will be housed on the more than 400-hectare stretch, bringing major investment and much needed jobs to the community.
Guyana’s Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar grew up in the area dubbed “plastic city”. He shared in his brief remarks that no one could have anticipated a project of such magnitude being built in the West Bank area.
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“This will bring significant benefit to Region Three, turn Region Three into a hub like Region Four. And it will also drive huge economic spin-offs into different industries, meaning jobs for the people here,” Indar said.
His sentiments were echoed by Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat who added that the sod turning reaffirms the government’s commitment to ensuring that the country’s oil development is seen in every region and, ensuring that Guyanese get a cut of the pie.
“To date, we have close to 4,000 Guyanese working in the oil and gas sector. A few years ago, we had zero – nobody and look at us today. We are forging ahead at a pace that has not been seen in many oil-producing countries and that is something we must be proud of,” Bharrat highlighted.
VEHSI will be serving ExxonMobil’s Yellowtail development in the Stabroek Block.
ExxonMobil Guyana’s Country Manager, Alistair Routledge who was also at the sod-turning activity said the company’s aim is to bring development into the country and to ensure that Guyana’s natural resources benefit every citizen.
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“And this is a banner project for that kind of development,” he added.
“We are bringing opportunities into the country to develop oil and gas here with the support services…and a major port on the West Bank of Demerara, it will have a more significant impact for the whole country,” Routledge stated.
VEHSI is a partnership between the 100% Guyanese-owned NRG Holdings and the Belgian Jan De Nul. The latter, an engineering and construction firm which specialises in marine and offshore services, among other things, will have a 15% stake.
NRG Holdings was the idea of three businessmen – Andron Alphonso of ZRN Investment Inc., Azruddin Mohammed of Hadi’s World Incorporated and Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer of National Hardware Guyana Limited – who envisaged the creation of a commercial port and an industrial area that is consistent with the spirit of Guyana’s Local Content Act, to see Guyanese being at the forefront of benefitting from their national patrimony.