Private Sector cautious about oil and gas investments

PSC GIPEX: From left: Executive member of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Zulfikar Ali, Head of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association Shyam Nokta, Head of the PSC Eddie Boyer and Executive Member of the PSC Ramesh Dookhoo at yesterday’s press briefing.

Head of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Eddie Boyer says that although the inaugural oil and gas summit can be viewed as a success, local businesses shouldn’t “build or invest in anticipation” since they are not guaranteed any contracts and could stand to lose if they “rush.”

At a press briefing at the conclusion of the Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit and Exposition (GIPEX) at the Marriott Hotel yesterday, Boyer said that the Commission is of the opinion that the event was a great success since local businesses were able to meet a number of oil giants, sub-contractors, consultants and other key players in the industry and have “very good” interaction with companies from all over the world.

“I want to say importantly that we have learned also from meetings we have had with oil companies, mainly Chevron and others, is that one should not build or invest in anticipation and I think that is something we need to look at. Our businesses shouldn’t assume, whatever business you’re doing that the oil companies would give you part of whatever you are bidding for, or if you lose the contract, you are being subcontracted,” Boyer said, while adding that businesses should be more secured rather than “going at random.”

He noted that while “everybody is in a rush,” he is cautioning businesses to ensure that they understand the industry and as persons can end up spending a lot of money and not being able to win a contract or meeting the standards.

This, President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Shyam Nokta said, is one of the reasons why the GMSA is currently in discussions with the Centre for Local Business Development, which was established last year by the local Exxon affiliate to help local businesses with building their capacity and improving their competitiveness in a range of sectors that serve the oil and gas industries.  He said that they want to ensure that the members are made aware of the critical issues and understand fully how they can work with the Centre on getting involved in the oil and gas industry.

“The Centre, I must say, is a valuable recourse and we have been encouraging our membership to visit the Centre and to participate in the courses and through that, not only raising awareness but gaining capacity to better understand the industry and to identify potential opportunities,” he said.

Executive member of the PSC Ramesh Dookhoo said that instead of thinking about what scholarships can be gained from the companies, the focus should be placed on aligning the technical and vocational institutions to cater for the needs of the coming oil and gas industry. He said that the current schools can be put to “more productive work” and they should be looking to align their curriculum with what will be required in a few years.

He said that a big part of the country’s contribution is not capital but human resources. “…And that is where the opportunities are also, other than the opportunities that exist for companies,” he noted.

Boyer also highlighted that the members of the diaspora can play a major role as the country can feed on their experience in the oil and gas industry.

“You realise what the Guyanese diaspora is worth? We have to tap those people and bring them here as it gets more lucrative and some of them are here and they are speaking to us and I am telling you a lot of people are seeing the opportunities for Guyana,” he noted

Executive member of the PSC Zulfikar Ali said that one of the most important things that came out of the summit was that now the PSC and local businesses have a better understanding and general sense of what the opportunities are in the oil and gas industry in Guyana.

He noted that he is also advocating to take the discussion outside of Georgetown since he believes it should be extended to the length and breadth of the country to include all Guyanese and Guyanese businesses.

“It’s a learning process and we [PSC] are also learning and we are building bridges and collaborating with others who are coming to Guyana and we are sharing the experiences we know about Guyana and learning at the same time,” he said.

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