Phase 1 of Exxon’s Shore Base facility at Vreed-en-Hoop to commence by month-end

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The Zheng-He vessel in the estuary of the Demerara River

– 100 workers including locals to be employed 

Several vessels have arrived in Guyana’s waters for the commencement of the first phase of construction for the $300 million shore base facility for ExxonMobil at Port Vreed-en-Hoop.

One of the main vessels – Zheng He – was toured on Friday by Azruddin Mohamed and Andron Alphonso – two of the three directors of NRG Holdings Inc. Nicholas Boyer, the other director, had prior commitments hence he was unable to be part of the tour.

In addition, several officials from Belgium-based Jan De Nul Group, another partner in the project were present. The vessel which is powered by its own generator (23MW) is expected to commence operation on June 23 with a December 2023 deadline for completion.

The first phase 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.

Presently, the area for the construction of the facility is being surveyed by the Belgium-based company that is specialised in offshore, marine, civil, environment, and project development.

Azruddin Mohamed along with Geert Koch of Jan De Nul Group and others during the tour

Speaking with Guyana Times on Friday, Geert Koch of the Jan De Nul Group explained that about 100 workers, both foreigners and locals, are expected to be recruited to work on the project.

He explained that about 2 kilometres of pipelines will be affixed to the vessel which will take the materials from the dredging to be filtered to the area for the land reclamation.

This process, he added, will be a tedious one but he is confident that it will be completed within the specified deadline. However, both Mohamed and Alphonso were extremely impressed with the vessel and more importantly, the manner in which the operation is expected to be executed.

“The vessel is a master class… on Friday, we were given a tour of the vessel during which every step of the operation was explained to us… from what I see, this operation will be executed by a group of professionals who have the experience in this sort things… We are happy to be on board the project and we expect that the first phase is completed within the time frame mentioned in the contract,” Mohamed told this publication.

Further, he was happy to also hear that the contractors will create job opportunities for locals. “This is something, we have been pushing for with all our projects – Guyanese must be part of the process,” he added.

Andron Alphonso greeting the Captain of Zheng He

However, after the first phase is completed, the second phase which involves deepening the dredging of the access canal and expanding reclamation will come on stream. Both projects are expected to be completed by 2024.

In April, ExxonMobil Guyana and the Vreed-en-Hoop Shorebase Incorporated (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’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.

At the signing, President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge stated that this shore base facility will allow the company to do more construction-related works, such as fabrication, right here in Guyana to support its offshore operations.

He explained that Exxon has already invested in the Guyana Shore Base Inc (GYSBI) which has enabled them to bring the supply chain for drilling operations and production operations into Guyana almost completely out of Trinidad.