The sod was yesterday turned for the construction of Guyana’s first oil and gas vocational training school.
The International Petroleum and Maritime Academy, located at Houston, is an institution formed out of TOTALTEC Oilfield Services, which was established more than a year ago by Guyanese Lars Mangal, who acts as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Mangal, along with the rest of this team, Brian Chia and Michael Henzell, each have more than a decade’s experience working with leading oil and gas company Schlumberger.
“Mr Mangal and I worked together in Schlumberger basically the largest oil field service company in the world and he thought it was a good time to come back and give back to the country and we took a big chance. We took a big risk because there was only one discovery well, Liza 1, and there was no plan for development at that time. But the oil business is a long term business so we had to be here first,” Chia, Senior Vice President of Business Development at TOTALTEC related yesterday.
“It’s a vocational academy, so basically we are hoping to take people like the sugar workers who are already good technicians, good mechanics, but get them ready for the oil and gas industry because safety is very, very important in the oil and gas industry. So we just need to change the mindset of the people. They have the skillset, just the mindset to be more safety conscious and of course teach them oil specific skills,” Chia explained.
Similar sentiments regarding the failing sugar industry had been expressed by the Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, when he addressed the gathering yesterday.
“We continue to look for local capacity building and this is a step in the right direction. We ask you to partner with the University of Guyana, perhaps with our technical institutes as well as we delink in a way and go through the agonizing pains of right-sizing the sugar industry. They are going to be a lot of able bodied men and women that is going to make a contribution to the new industry that is going to replace sugar and so academies such as yours hopefully will not only be the first to take this initiative, but also a premiere academy in terms of the quality of service that will be provided,” Trotman said in his brief address.
TOTALTEC is a partner in ExxonMobil’s onshore support facility provider Guyana Shore Base Inc, along with Muneshwers Limited, TOTALTEC Oilfield Services, Pacific Rim Constructors and LED Offshore.
Mangal explained that the school, referred to as the ‘TOTALTEC Academy,’ will “accelerate the recruitment, development, and employment career orientations of Guyanese into the industry.”
“Our plan is to have around 500 Guyanese come through this centre over the next few years. So we really have a vision for really accelerating local content development and making this a huge success for Guyanese participation in the industry in coming years,” Mangal stated.
Mangal related that a five-year contract has been awarded to First Competence Ltd, a company located in Aberdeen, United Kingdom, to spearhead the training at the academy. He stated that other companies will also be brought on board.
“First Competence are going to be providing us with three instructors, we have given them a five-year contract, a multimillion dollar contract to provide the training on the ground in conjunction with two or three Guyanese instructors that will be second instructors as we train them and develop them to take over the training,” he explained.
Mangal announced that TOTALTEC has been receiving tremendous support from potential investors and noted that many of the patrons in attendance at yesterday’s ceremony had traveled to attend the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit and Exhibition (GIPEX).
“A number of companies have expressed strong support for the academy initiative, asking whether they can contribute with models, simulators, training materials, instructors,” he related. Mangal said that Schlumberger, a partner of TOTALTEC, had provided one of the classrooms, and said that other companies also expressed an interest in getting on board.
“This facility is a Schlumberger facility that they’ve acquired from Mr (Sattaur) Gafoor. It’s under development, it’s being deconstructed in the back but reconstructed in a very short time. Schlumberger is in the process of working with Guyana Shore Base for Guyana Shore Base to take over the operatorship of the facility,” Mangal said of the building where the ceremony was being held.
It was related by Chia that courses at the academy should begin by March/April, with persons already having been pre-selected for training. The academy is currently awaiting the arrival of equipment from the UK to begin.
“So the first 25 Guyanese will be hired by then, employed by us. If they go through the nine-week course and are successful, basically we start placing them in jobs. If not, it doesn’t matter, they are on our payroll. We will use them on our shore base, we will use them wherever we can find work for them,” Chia said.
Mangal had said that advertisements will be placed for future recruits.
“We’ve had 3,000 plus applications to the shore base within two weeks. We have such a large pool of applicants looking for work and of course one of the things that the dear Minister Trotman mentioned upstairs, which is very close to our heart, too, is, how can we assist with what’s happening in the sugar industry and the technical institutes in terms of liaising with them and the universities particularly in those areas afflicted, that we can in fact be inclusive and bring them into our training programmes,” Mangal related.
“…So, we’re going to be very diligent in who we recruit and how we train them and of course at the same time, we’ll be very, very open to putting on more training programmes and accelerating more Guyanese through the academy, as a function, of course, [of] the demand we see… [In] the first year we anticipate around 120 at least. And that’s just the basic operator training programmes that we’ll be running. We’ll be looking at other safety programmes as well,” he added.