Oil conference drew around 650 participants

-networking, tourism boost hailed

From left to right, Chris Chapwanya, Director of Sagacity Media, the local public relations partner; Owen Verwey, Head of Go-Invest; Shariq Abdulhai, Director of Valiant Business Media Group of the United Kingdom and Joanna Homer, Attorney for Ministry of Natural Resources.

Having drawn around 650 participants, the curtains came down on the inaugural Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit and Exhibition (GIPEX)  on Friday with organisers hailing networking opportunities, possible investments and the tourism boost.

“The one that has been mentioned the least is what this event has done for the tourism industry and the services sector in Guyana, because inasmuch as it does well for the networking of the oil and gas industry, it had a direct impact on tourism in the economy,” Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), Owen Verwey, told a press conference at the close at the Marriott Hotel.

Feedback so far from local hotels in George-town, he said, was that they saw occupancy increase dramatically while he pointed to the traffic where cabdrivers also spoke of an increase.

Students from the Government Technical Institute in discussion with a representative at the Exhibition.

Verwey said that a lesson to be learned by locals was that they need to tap into the opportunities such events bring and thus maximize on them.

He urged that local prospective and current businesses get au fait with international standards and best practices for their specific trades and quickly adapt to those cultures.

“First and foremost we don’t have a corporate culture. We have a culture where it is a one-man show, a one-man operation. Standardization is still to raise its level. Not that we don’t have that in Guyana, but its practice in all aspects of business is very, very important,” he said.

“As we heard in the conference, record keeping, traceability, accountability, those are key aspects we need to do. [Getting] Information, making yourself informed and aware of what is going on and what is required in the industry is very, very important. Even more important is that it is heavily technology driven. So what you know today is not necessarily what will be required tomorrow. It has to be. We see the bigger businesses expending funds to come to this market to learn something. It means that businesses in Guyana need to start to take advantage of those opportunities where those networking industries are going out, whether in the oil and gas industry or others. They need to go out there and network and learn to look for the initial opportunities that exist,” he added.

The organisers promised to compile a report on the event to be able to better it, including involving more locals, and the report will give the number of local companies that participated and delegates who attended the conference.

However, preliminary data revealed that there was a total of about 650 participants, of which approximately 450 were paying delegates.  Government officials, some members of the diplomatic community, international public servants and special interest parties comprised the remainder.

To attend the conference, local participants paid some US$$750 or $155,000. Booth rentals at the exhibition saw them receive a discounted price from the US$3,000 charged to international participants, to US$1,950.

To accommodate more local companies, some had the option of sharing a booth and splitting the fees equally.

Head of the international organiser, Valiant Business Media Group, Shariq AbdulHai said that his company’s objective this time around was not for commercial financial gain, but look to establish a long-term relationship with the Guyana Government, Go-Invest and local businesses, so that the event can be a regional and even an international one.

“From my company’s point of view… commercial or financial viability was not the key decision when taking the project. We know it takes us a couple of years to decently build this…we don’t see it as an event which will only be limited to Guyana. I think we have the capability, with Go- Invest, with the Government of Guyana, local partners here and our international expertise, to in a year or two, [make] this be a regional event here in Guyana. And as the infrastructure develops here as well, it can be a global oil and gas event. There are some oil and gas events that attract thousands of participants…”, he stated.

Addressing the subject of cost, the VALIANT CEO said that when compared to similar global events “an event of this magnitude cost involvement is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” He said that he has committed to the Government of Guyana that his company will support the industry here, as they partner to grow from strength to strength.

The good news for Guyana, he said, was that it would not cost the state “a single dollar” as it was a self-financing project. He said that negotiators drove a hard bargain, as they refused to commit unless some 25 percent of the gross revenue from the event was given to an education fund here.

“The arrangement is that we take on all the expenses, and apart from that, 25 percent of all the proceedings are directly going into the education fund. It is a good contract the ministry negotiated, but we are looking for the long-term relationship and the outcome is good for us as well,” Abdulhai said.

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