Oil and gas support company, Ramps Logistics says it is committed to Guyana’s local content development which has already shown rewards with 100 persons working offshore.
“We grew from two persons in 2013 when we were incorporated to 120 persons in 2018 and we are completely managed and staffed by Guyanese,” Operations Director of Ramps Logistics, Richard De Nobrega told Stabroek News in an interview at the company’s Brickdam, Stabroek location.
“We have and can boast, a 100% percent local staffing and I also must add that our management is 75% female. Our workforce is reflective that we have no bias in our employment regime because we offer equal opportunities to everyone across the length and breadth of this country and we don’t have to tell you, it is evident,” he added.
The Operations Director explained that under the Ramps Logistics umbrella is its manpower arm named Eldorado Offshore and that company was formed to meet the direct oil and gas offshore support needs of companies. Some 75 persons have been trained and are working offshore on vessels that provide support to ExxonMobil’s Stabroek Block operations.
But De Nobrega says that although the company is 100% Guyanese managed and staffed, it recently came in for strong criticisms that it had been given Exxon’s contract for the provision of brokerage services.
Saying that neither he nor any of his management team had been contacted before the criticisms rained on them, he believes that the condemnation the company faced was uncalled for and the company’s operations could have been clarified with a simple phone call.
“We woke up one morning and saw that the Kaieteur News had listed us as a Trinidadian company and that we had been unjustly given the contract. No one called, no one checked and if they did they would see that that we are managed and staffed by one hundred percent Guyanese,” he said.
“Maybe they got mixed up in just hearing the name Ramps Logistics and associating it with Trinidad but we felt very hurt because our primary objective is to help develop local content here and it is what we have been doing,” he added.
De Nobrega would explain that Ramps Logistics is headquartered in Trinidad but that they only provide support to the local company.
“To give you some history and put things in perspective let me explain. Ramps Logistics was officially incorporated here in Guyana in November 2013. The company has offices in Trinidad, Haiti, Suriname and the United States but with agents all over the world. We are headquartered in Trinidad. Ramps Logistics have been in operation for the last 34 years in Trinidad where they offer air freight customs brokerage… (among other things)
“Seeing a need for brokerage services here, Ramps came here around 2012 to scout out. We set up to support customs brokerage in this sector in Guyana to pioneer the work. We started with just two of us in 2013, myself and another person. Trinidad sent a few reps in assisting in getting things off the ground to get the ball rolling and they left us and we took over. In 2013 we saw the industry heading in the oil and gas direction and believed that it could only get better. We got our first Exxon project through an international partner, Agility Logistics, and we later over the years continued with Exxon. In 2015 after Exxon made the first discovery we understood that oil was here to stay and began planning for that,” he added.
It was after the first oil discovery that the idea for a manpower support company was birthed and Eldorado Offshore was established. It is this company that trains all of the offshore workers for ExxonMobil and its support vessels where they work as roustabouts, painters, deckhands and in other lower tier jobs.
De Nobrega said that the company had a plan. While it understood that Guyana was a frontier oil and gas country which had basically no skilled workers to meet the employment needs of ExxonMobil or any other oil company, rapid measures would be put in place to cater for short, medium and long-term job opportunities.
“We are going to continue our best efforts. Our number one priority is to work with Guyanese. The oil and gas industry is new and with that we have to look at how do we now utilize the core competencies of the Guyanese labour force …We have regular trainings in office, we also send staff to get training. We have training in-house with Exxon and we have four guys working offshore in the same capacity and we can say they are products of our training programme that was developed and run with the support of Exxon. That training programme will be doubled this year so the logistics rig clerk programme will see eight this year and that programme will take place in two to three weeks.
“This is something ongoing. The industry will not contract, it will only get bigger and we need to understand as Guyanese that we need to make steps possible to include locals in the workforce and train them to be competent. We have a relationship with the University of Guyana and GTI (Government Technical Institute) and we take graduates and work with them to prepare them for specific jobs. We keep planning and thinking about building local content capacity” De Nobrega said.
He said that on Exxon’s Stena Carron rig, there are 25 persons working as stewards, roustabouts, painters and technicians.
Ramps provides the necessary HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) and TBOSIET (Tropical Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) training needed for work offshore.
Overall, both Ramps and Eldorado Offshore have in their employ 120 persons most of whom are youths. Currently, there are over 1000 applications in its job wait database, even as the company continues to plan for enhancement of the country’s local content programme.
“I saw a need where expats coming here to work in the sector were looking for housing and other services so I pitched the idea that a realty operation be set up and I was given the go ahead. We now have Orbis and that has been thriving. Ramps is looking to make here a one stop shop for all oil and gas support needs,” Mariska Jordan, Business Development Manager of Eldorado Offshore and the recently established Orbis, explained.