Govt mulls establishing Guyana as oil & gas regional hub – Min Bharrat

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Minster of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat

– able to service nearby oil producers; as shore bases coming on stream grow

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has as one of its goals, the establishment of Guyana as an oil and gas hub for the region, a goal the country is working to realise with the coming on stream of infrastructure for the oil sector, including various shore bases.

“We know we have Suriname, we have French Guiana, the entire northern Brazil block. So, we want Guyana to be established as that hub within the Guiana shield. And also, if possible, within the Caribbean region,” the Minister said.

According to Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat during a recent address, infrastructure is just one of the challenges that oil-producing countries are faced with. But he pointed to the shore base expected to come on stream by next year, a reference to the US$300 million project piloted by the Vreed-en-Hoop Shore Base Inc (VEHSI).

“I’m sure you would have seen, I think it was in this very room, that a contract was signed between ExxonMobil and Vreed-en-Hoop shore base. So, we have a second shore base that is coming on stream by third, fourth quarter 2023, in time for the Payara development,” Bharrat said.

“And it is necessary, we know we already have infrastructure or capacity in terms of shore base. But with the third development coming on stream late next year or early 2024 and then already signing the Yellowtail production licence and with a fifth development coming, it’s necessary that we look ahead at other developments to support what is happening offshore Guyana.”

The Minister made it clear that they welcome companies who can come and aid in Guyana’s building out of its oil and gas infrastructure. He noted that even now, countries in the Guiana shield such as Suriname and French Guiana can provide opportunities for Guyana to expand its shore base services.

“We welcome the companies who would have taken the initiative to come and establish their base here, moving from other countries and coming here. And also, to service other countries from Guyana too. Because we’ve been looking to establish Guyana as a hub in the Guiana shield. And if possible, in the Caribbean region.”

According to Bharrat, they are trying to make investing easier from their end, such as improving the ease of doing business and the granting of permits. He pointed to the moves towards setting up a single window system, for which the Government is seeking a consultant.

“On our side, these are some of the steps we’re taking to make investment easy and make investors feel welcome. We want to continue to work with you,” Minister Bharrat said, adding that they are also mulling a ceiling for approving projects, that would not require the Minister’s approval.

It was only in April that VEHSI signed a 20-year agreement for shore base services to be provided at the Port of Vreed-en-Hoop facility to support the US oil giant ExxonMobil’s operations offshore Guyana.

VEHSI, which is undertaking Guyana’s first multi-purpose port facility, is a joint venture between a fully-owned Guyanese consortium – NRG Holdings Incorporated, and Jan De Nul Group, a Belgium-based company that specialises in offshore, marine, civil, environment, and project development.

The consortium includes Hadi World Inc, owned by businessmen Nazar “Shell” Mohamed and Azruddin Mohamed, Nicholas Boyer of National Hardware Guyana Limited, and Andron Alphonso of ZRN Investments Inc.

NRG holds a majority stake of 85 per cent in VESHI, while the remaining 15 per cent is owned by Jan De Nul – the company that will construct the facility.

The multi-million Port of Vreed-en-Hoop, which will be located at the Best, West Coast Demerara foreshore, will feature an offshore terminal; fabrication, umbilical and spooling yards; a dry dock facility; a wharf and berths, and administrative buildings, among other facilities.

Located in Region Three, the Port of Vreed-en-Hoop will occupy some 400 hectares of coastal land. Phase One of the project will see the deepening, widening, and dredging of the access channel, as well as land reclamation.

It also includes an offshore terminal, dry dock facility, and fabrication yard spanning 65 hectares. Meanwhile, Phase Two involves deepening the dredging of the access canal and expanding reclamation. The mega-port will centralise multiple shipping and logistic services in one location.