In Guyana, for decades, and having found over a dozen oil wells since 2015, there is some expectation that ExxonMobil can provide direct employment for locals. The company contended that it has been able to employ thousands of locals during its time in Guyana.
According to Exxon’s Senior Director of Public and Government Affairs, Diedre Moe, Exxon currently has over 3400 persons working on its local operations. This includes the Stabroek Block, where the company has a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel and other infrastructure set up.
“We have over 3400 people working on the projects in Guyana. More than 1700 or 50 per cent are actually Guyanese. Anything from doing catering type of work to roustabouts on board, safety and health officers and we also have significant work at shore base, activities like loading pipes. And then, of course, we have persons working for us directly, everything like accountants to communication professionals to engineers.”
“We had three specifically that were hired a couple years ago. And they spent 18 months in the US at our expense. And they got a chance to be trained in how different types of oil and gas operations work. And they have since come back. They are actually going to be responsible for different issues regarding the Liza Phase One project. The jobs we have for Guyanese run the gamut of opportunities.”
According to Moe, Exxon has worked with over 600 local vendors and suppliers on a sub-contractual basis, since they first began their operations in 1999. She noted that Exxon has expended over G$36 billion on supplies from local vendors.
Local content and what it will do for Guyana has been a burning question since the announcement of oil in the Stabroek Block. After Exxon first tempered expectations by saying that few job opportunities will be created by oil, it has since said that it will help with local content delivery.
One measure it has taken is to set up a Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD). A prevailing complaint has been that Guyanese are losing out to foreigners when it comes to local content, especially as the Local Content Policy is still to be in effect.
A third draft of the local content plan was released weeks ago and was subjected to discussions among stakeholders. The lack of penalties was a prevalent concern by those who reviewed the document. In fact, the policy itself said that there were limits to its scope.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), having identified a number of weaknesses within the policy including the most obvious one of the lack of penalties for delinquent operators, had sent out an analysis on the document.
They had said that with no penalties to hold operators accountable to their commitments and international principles of providing employment and business opportunities for Guyanese, “handshakes” and good faith are not enough.