Onshore Exxon support base for completion by March

Minister Natural Resources Raphael Trotman (3rd from left) flanked by officials of the company

Guyana Shore Base Inc (GYSBI) on Friday announced that it is scheduled to complete its 28-acre onshore base at Houston, East Bank, Demerara, to meet the needs of United States oil company ExxonMobil by March of next year.

GYSBI, which is a consortium comprising Muneshwers Limited, TOTALTEC Oilfield Services, Pacific Rim Constructors and LED Offshore, made the disclosure during a tour of the facility by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman.

Trotman was told that the facility was about eight percent completed and by next year March it should be done. When it is finished, it will see about 100 persons being employed for a range of jobs. However, the minister was assured that only about five percent of those hired will be foreigners and they will be given contracts to train locals in the skills needed.

As Guyana prepares for oil production in 2020, the company hopes to have a fully functional state-of-the-art onshore base to meet Exxon’s needs.

Port Development and Operations Manager Rabin Chandarpal told the press during the tour that the company wished it had more space but was working to ensure that Exxon has all the services needed at the “one stop” facility. “We have so far identified usage for every square inch of this facility and we really wished we had some more,” he said.

Minister Natural Resources Raphael Trotman (3rd from left) flanked by officials of the company.

Last month, GYSBI beat out John Fernandes Limited to win the tender to provide shore-based services to Exxon.

The company had been developing the port facility at Houston since last year and invested over US$10 million to capitalise on Guyana’s developing oil and gas industry.

“Essentially, what we want to be is a one-stop shop for the supply vessel. When the vessel comes from the rig and it comes here, it must be able to satisfy all its needs, get its pipes, its fuel, its oil, its water, the powder plant, the mud plant. You know? They come here, they get everything done and they go back,” Robin Muneshwer, the company’s Country Manager had told Stabroek News during a tour last year, when it started works.

“That could be the holy grail for us in terms of the oil industry support,” he said.

On Friday, he echoed this stance and said that it was the ability to have that “one stop shop” that gave his company the advantage over other competitors.

Muneshwers Limited purchased the 28-acre property from timber company, Caribbean Resources Limited, in 2014, for US$20 million.

Muneshwer informed that while a US$10 million development figure was slated for the project, “the cost is escalating as we speak.”

But GYSBI’s main focus is starting the works that Exxon has contracted it for and it will invest as needed to realise those goals, he added.

And while initially Muneshwer’s had hoped that its Water Street port operations could be merged at the location, Muneshwer on Friday said that it was not possible since all the space was dedicated to the oil and gas support base.

But he is not giving up on the port facility that he has worked very hard to build and his company will remain agents for Maersk and Sealand.

He could not immediately say what happens now with planned expansion of his port facility. “We have to sit and think hard. We have to make business decisions look at the bigger picture for us and Guyana. Oil and gas is major for us now,” Muneshwer said.

He explained that his neighbours—Gafoors to the north, and Pritipaul Singh Investments to the south—have a good relationship with the consortium and are kept up to date about developments.

Muneshwer said that Gafoors even indicated a willingness to join with the GYSBI. “They want to join us,” he stated but he did not go into detail.

Other businesses along the Demerara River have also been supportive of the company’s investment, he added.

Meanwhile, Trotman said that the development of the facility is just the start as more would be needed.

“There are a number of companies doing exploration… just for the Liza development alone, even this facility they wished was bigger,” he noted.

“In the future, the nation is going to still need a stand-alone facility in addition to [this]. So, it wouldn’t displace or crowd out the facilities but as other companies move into exploration and production, this facility just servicing ExxonMobil alone won’t be able to take care of the others. The two are not mutually exclusive, so government is proceeding with a facility. We are having a feasibility study done as to the best location,” he added.

Trotman’s ministry has said that Crab Island, located in Berbice, is a “very possible site” for an onshore oil base but no confirming studies have yet been done. On Friday, he pointed out that “ultimately the decision has to be driven by what is best, in terms of serving the industry and where jobs and skills could be available.”

Meanwhile, Trotman assured that the development of the onshore base at Houston will have no implications for government’s proposed new Demerara Harbour Bridge. “The design that Cabinet was shown and which the nation was shown would allow for a higher span than what currently exists and for a bridge that will be up and down in 15 minutes. So down time will not be an issue at all… it will not be a hindrance at all,” he assured.

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