The recently appointed Country Manager of ExxonMobil in Guyana, Rod Henson, has announced that that company will be relocating to Guyana its onshore operations — used for support services — from neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, where they are currently based.
Henson made the announcement over the weekend during an outreach in Corriverton, Berbice as part of Guyana’s application process to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) based in Oslo, Norway.
Henson was at the time engaging a Berbice businessman who was looking to query what, if any, interest ExxonMobil held in Crab Island in light of word that an onshore base would be established there.
According to the businessman, with sugar facing its demise locally, young people were looking to the emerging oil-and-gas sector in hope of acquiring jobs, but were unclear as to what exactly is being proposed for that island.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has indicated that Government is examining the possibility of establishing on Crab Island an onshore base costing some US$500M, but Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has repeatedly dismissed the claim as a fallacy; and while ExxonMobil had publicly declared its disinterest in building such a facility, Henson had indicated a route the company could use to establish a shore base for support services in Guyana.
Henson had, however, been quick to point out, “Our development is offshore; that’s where we have a lease from the Government, and that’s where we are developing.” Nevertheless, he had also said: “We require shore bases.”
He had explained that some amount of development requires support services onshore, but had also stated that the company’s facilities are currently located in Trinidad and Tobago.
He had told participants it was not a case wherein ExxonMobil would be looking to build a facility for its support services, but would rather put out tenders and anyone interested in providing the shore base services could present a proposal.
In relation to the Crab Island proposals, Henson explained that ExxonMobil would not, in any way, dictate where the base should be located in Guyana; but insisted that the “next shore base has to be in Guyana.”
The ExxonMobil Country Manager indicated, “We will put out our requirements and we will let the Guyanese (people) compete, and if it’s in Berbice, great! We (are) not dictating where; that is, it’s an open and transparent tender process.”
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had, in 2016, announced that Cabinet had given its ‘no objection’ to the establishment of the onshore industrial site in the area of Crab Island, Berbice.
He had said it would be forged through the joint efforts of the ministries of Natural Resources, Public Infrastructure and Business. Construction was announced for early this year, and the investments from the private sector and Government’s infrastructural work and support were to be equivalent to US$500M; but this has never materialised.
According to information released this March by the Government’s Department of Information (DPI), the construction of an onshore oil-and-gas facility at Crab Island seeks to cater to the expansion of exploration and subsequent production of oil in Guyana. Crab Island is located in the Berbice River.
That report had said Government would be investing US$500M to construct the onshore facility during the course of this year, and that the facility would serve as a logistics and supply base to the offshore production.
The Guyana Lands and Surveys Department has been advertising leasehold interest in close proximity to Crab Island.
The facility touted by Government is said to create some 600 jobs, and could consist of components which include maintenance, fabrication, warehousing, spares, housing, and spares handling among others.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had last year said that jobs which would be created through the establishment of the onshore supply base facility would enable and enhance the labour force.
ExxonMobil has, in recent months, been advertising for onshore service providers.
John Fernandes Limited (JFL) and Muneshwer’s Limited were among the shortlisted companies. These companies have port facilities along Water Street.
ExxonMobil and its partners found oil in commercial quantities in the Liza Field back in May 2015, and have since accelerated development activities in preparation for commercial production in 2020.
Additionally, several other companies have been issued licences to explore Guyana’s deep waters. Those companies include Repsol, Tullow Oil, CGX, JHI, Eco Atlantic and Ratio Oil.