Exxon local content plan focusing on workforce, suppliers – Senior Director

Building on an initial supplier capacity assessment conducted by international consultancy firm Deloitte, ExxonMobil has begun work on its own local content plan which focuses on both a workforce and suppliers.

“Deloitte performed in-country assessment in September 2016. Learnings from this study are helping shape our local content plan,” ExxonMobil’s Senior Director for Public and Government Affairs Kimberly Johnson-Brasington told Stabroek News.

As part of the granting of a production licence to Exxon, government said that the company has to provide it with a local content plan of its own within six months.

“So that we will know how local content, both in terms of employment and procurement, and the provision of goods and services will be phased into this project over the next three years going into production,” Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman had said.

But attorney and accountant Christopher Ram has pointed out that the licence should not have been granted unless all the requirements of the law were met. “From all appearances, the minister ought not to have granted the licence unless all the requirements pertaining to local content were met, to his satisfaction,” Ram stated.

In his ‘Road to first oil’ column in Stabroek News last week, Ram pointed to a section of the Act which he believes gives the minister “wiggle room” by stating that if he determines that special circumstances exist which justify the granting of a production licence even where the applicant is in default, he may still proceed to issue a licence. But he noted that “the question of local content has to be addressed satisfactorily in the application for the petroleum production licence.”

Pointing to Section 36 of the Petroleum Act, Ram noted that it is clear that a licence should not be granted unless it met specified criteria pertaining to local content. These include that “the applicant’s proposals for the employment and training of citizens of Guyana are satisfactory; and the applicant’s proposals with respect to the procurement of goods and services obtainable within Guyana are satisfactory.”

Johnson-Brasington informed that the company had always made provisions to ensure local content policies are implemented and maximised and had even started working on the local content plan. “We launched a supplier registration portal in February 2017, which can be found on our website and has over 150 Guyanese companies registered. And now we are launching the Centre for Local Business Development in July 2017. As part of the centre’s creation, we are further refining our understanding of local businesses and their capacity through a follow-on supplier capacity assessment. These efforts, and others, are part of our local content plan that we are preparing,” she stated.

On Monday last, the company announced that it was setting up a Centre for Local Business Development, which is expected to help local businesses better position themselves in areas that serve the oil and gas industries.

United States-based development company DAI Global, LLC will work with the company over a three-year period to achieve its planned objectives.

That centre will be located on South Road, Georgetown at the IPED building.

It will assist small and medium-sized Guyanese businesses with building their capacity and improving their competitiveness in a range of sectors that serve the oil and gas and other industries.

“The Centre for Local Business Development is an investment in the people of Guyana and the future of the country. ExxonMobil is proud to assist in the design and implementation of this important resource,” Rod Henson, Country Manager of the local ExxonMobil affiliate was quoted as saying in the statement announcing the setting up of the centre. He said too that the centre will play a key role in furthering the capabilities of local businesses, with which the company is eager to partner.

“Local suppliers are important to the success of ExxonMobil’s operations,” he said. “Through the centre, we hope to strengthen the capabilities of these local companies, as well as improve the competitiveness of Guyana’s industrial base.”

Johnson-Brasington told Stabroek News that ExxonMobil is committed to supporting contracting (and subcontracting) with local companies when possible.

She noted that its workforce is over 50% Guyanese and during the first quarter of this year the company and its contractors have spent $6 million on local vendors.

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