Govt working to ease burden of locals investing in training for O&G sector

Welding onboard the Liza Destiny floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) – Guyana’s first oil development

Head of the Local Content Secretariat, Martin Pertab has disclosed that they are working with operators in the oil and gas industry to provide training for local persons and suppliers so that they can be deemed eligible to benefit from opportunities in the petroleum sector.

Speaking at a seminar hosted on “Opportunities for the Diaspora in Guyana’s New Economy”, Pertab highlighted the work they have been doing to get operators in the sector in line with the legislation so that Guyanese persons and companies can benefit from the industry.

This, he explained, is as a result of locals, especially suppliers, complaining of the burden they incur in training persons, who eventually leave to join the big operators in the petroleum sector.

“One of the complaints from several of our suppliers is that, for example, in the welding and fabrication, training is a huge burden. What happens is that these locals would have to invest in training; they would have to invest in bringing Guyanese up to standards where the sub-contractors would deem them eligible. But then the complaint is that the same employees would leave to join sub-contractors so there is no way for locals to recoup that investment,” he pointed out.

According to Pertab, they have been pushing for the operators to provide training not only for employees but local suppliers as well in order to offset that burden and investment in training. This provision is outlined in the Local Content legislation that was passed in the National Assembly in December.

“We have tens of thousands of local suppliers who are interested in providing the services but they don’t have the kind of standards that these companies would deem them eligible for them to participate. So, what we’ve said to them is that you have to provide training for our locals to ensure that you yourself would consider them eligible so they can participate in the procurement process and that is under our objective of boosting local participation [in the oil and gas sector].”

“These companies are requiring experience, and we can’t get the experience if we can’t get the work. So, the idea is to have them make the first move to have to provide training whether in-person or through mentorship to our locals who are interested and of course, to our local suppliers,” he noted.

The Local Content Secretariat, which was set up in February, allows Guyanese and Guyanese-owned businesses to register their businesses and their individual skill sets. This is so there is a ready-made pool of skills and services to draw from when opportunities become available in the sector.

There are two portals for registration, which are ongoing. One register deals with supplier registration and the other deals with employment registration. Applicants have the option of submitting their applications in either electronic or hardcopy form. Once their applications are submitted, applicants will receive an acknowledgment of receipt and a reference number, after which a review process will start.

After conducting the necessary checks and balances, the Secretariat will either approve the application and issue a Certificate of Registration or refuse the application and notify the applicant. Once an application is approved and a Certificate of Registration granted, the applicant will be issued with log in credentials to gain access to either the Supplier Registration Portal or the Employment Portal.

The Local Content Secretariat will then communicate available procurement and employment opportunities to registered Guyanese suppliers and those seeking employment, respectively. This, they noted, will be done through the respective portals.

According to the Local Content Act passed last year, oil and gas companies operating in Guyana, as well their contractors and sub-contractors must procure from Guyanese companies by the end of 2022, 90 per cent of office space rental and accommodation services; 90 per cent of janitorial services, laundry and catering services; 95 per cent pest control services; 100 per cent local insurance services; 75 per cent local supply of food; and 90 per cent local accounting services. These are just some of the 40 different services outlined in the first schedule.

Currently, the Secretariat is in the process of receiving and reviewing the local content plans of operators in the local oil and gas industry.

According to the Local Content Secretariat Head, based on the plans being submitted by contractors, they are surprised at the kind of skill sets that are needed by operators and sub-contractors in the petroleum sector.

“I’ve been quite surprised to see the kind of skill set that is needed. The bulk so far hasn’t been what we’ve anticipated and that information will be presented so that we can have a discussion with [the Ministry of] Labour and all the other major stakeholders on how do we address this and how do we put proper systems [and] measures in place to ensure that our locals are up to standards in terms of reaching the criteria that would deem them eligible to participate,” Pertab stated.

He further outlined that the Secretariat is also trying to address other issues such as access to financing for Guyanese businesses.