Director of Guyana’s Department of Energy (DE), Dr. Mark Bynoe says an important aspect of the department’s action plan is for it to be housed in a new building at an appropriate site within two years as Guyana continues to build capacity to manage its burgeoning energy industry.
In a recent interview, Dr. Bynoe noted that capacity across the board—especially physical and resource capacity—has been a major constraint to the early work of DE, which was established in August last year and is currently housed in the offices of the Ministry of the Presidency. He said the department has been searching for a more appropriate site for its offices.
Commenting on progress so far, Dr. Bynoe said, “We are just about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My own plan is between 18 months to two years; for us to concentrate on moving into our own structure.”
The DE Director said the selection of a suitable location will take into consideration the rapidly changing technical and economic conditions that will accompany the growth of the sector. As he sees it, this might involve a move outside the capital city Georgetown.
“I don’t believe in staying within Georgetown given what this sector is likely to evolve into, and the need for development to occur outside of Georgetown given the congestion problem and other challenges,” Dr. Bynoe said.
The DE head also pinpointed the lack of human resource capacity. “We have got to be very candid and admit that we may not have those skills and so it would be foolhardy for us to believe we could manage it without being advised by others,” Dr Bynoe pointed out.
He stated, “There are few Guyanese who have the kind of content knowledge necessary to assist in the management of this sector. Therefore our modus operandi has been to start by seeking third party intervention through contracting third parties and having Guyanese embedded alongside them that then would allow for the kind of transferal of skill and the mentoring that is necessary.”
The DoE recently advertised for additional local staff as well as expats who he said can be on call. Consideration is also being given to hiring management consultant firms that are “embedded” within the organization. He said this would allow for “grandfathering” to occur.
“We are speaking here about a billion-dollar industry and we have to be prudent about how we manage it. We cannot allow ourselves to be penny wise and pound foolish. Alongside that, we have also advertised for local staff, who can be shadowed by the…international consultants…our want has been to advertise locally and internationally for such skills in an atmosphere of transparency…”
He said the response has been overwhelming with over 400 applicants. “It is often a [misunderstanding] about the level of unemployment in Guyana. I am saying this because more than 90 percent of those who applied are already in a job…”
The Department continues to advance with the process of strengthening its capacity through the continued recruitment of expertise of both Guyanese and advisors, securing funding and expertise to build out its structure and developing a web presence.
With a recently signed World Bank loan for US$20M, the DE is aiming to recruit the following skills between May and July this year: Petroleum Development Advisor; Crude Marketing Advisor; Natural Gas Negotiating Advisor; Oil and Gas Commercial Specialist; Specialist to conduct a needs assessment for the Petroleum Commission; Accounting Specialist and Legal Advisory Services.