SBM Offshore remains committed to investing in Guyana’s local content

Over the last few years, Guyana’s oil and gas industry has seen exponential growth that drastically improved the country’s economic standing and enhanced its global appeal.

A transformational tapestry is being unraveled as the government’s development matrix propels the country to new heights.

SBM Offshore Guyana General Manager, Martin Cheong

While the implementation of mega projects to push the infrastructural development agenda is a key facet of the matrix, the administration is also placing a keen focus on ensuring that the country’s social infrastructure receives adequate investment.

The Local Content Act is just one testament to this commitment. The act was designed to ensure the oil and gas industry supports an economy where small and medium-sized businesses can grow and benefit.

The act has led to the employment of more than 6000 locals in the industry and lays out 40 areas in the services sector that oil and gas companies and their subcontractors must procure locally.

One such contractor that has aligned its procurement and management policies with this legislation is SBM Offshore Guyana.

The company was the first major Exxon contractor to receive approval for its local content master plan.

With over 100 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, SBM Offshore is responsible for the construction of Guyana’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels in the Stabroek Block.

SBM Offshore Guyana’s General Manager, Martin Cheong has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to investing in the local market, partnering with local businesses, and ensuring that training programmes remain a hallmark of its local content framework.

“One focus for us primarily is building local capacity on two fronts; human capacity, that is, employees, ensuring we have a strong national footprint; and secondly, in terms of local vendors and suppliers. Going local just makes sense,” he told the Department of Public Information (DPI) during a recent visit to SBM Offshore’s corporate office on Sheriff Street, Georgetown.

In 2023, some 112 Guyanese vendors were engaged, with nearly 600 purchase orders issued. These orders ranged from several services, including transportation, accommodation, welding, fabrication, and fresh foods.

Training opportunities

Training initiatives are one crucial aspect of the company’s investments in the local workforce.

The Trainee Technician Programme and Graduate Engineers’ Programme are just two of the initiatives aimed at upskilling Guyanese in various capacities so they can support offshore operations.

Malik Lewis

Recently, a total of eight Guyanese engineers completed the Graduate Engineers’ Programme, which provided international training to support the FPSO vessels.

Two of these graduates, Malik Lewis and Maryam Nasir, both of whom are employed at SBM Offshore Guyana, shared their experiences, which they described as transformational and exciting.

For Maryam Nasir, the oil and gas sector has introduced new opportunities for young Guyanese, opening doors for innovation and creativity.

She was trained in Monaco and the Netherlands, where she played a vital role in the creation of Digital Twin for the Prosperity FPSO. She explained that a digital twin is a replica of the FPSO intended to facilitate information management.

Maryam Nasir

Nasir is now employed as a data scientist within the company.

“A lot of people think of SBM as an engineering company but there is also a field for innovation and technology. When I was at the University of Guyana studying Computer Science, I had an affinity for data science, but I didn’t know how that was going to work in Guyana because the field was not developed. So, SBM does spread a digital footprint locally, because I was able to become a data scientist,” she said.

Meanwhile, Malik Lewis received training in the Netherlands and then Singapore for six months each. He explained that being exposed to hands-on training on the Prosperity vessel was an invigorating venture.

“We got to go on the vessel and we were able to see all of the work that was going on. It was good to be part of the team and to gain that experience. I am now in marine engineering, and this is quite a new and exciting experience for me. It has been productive, refreshing, and transformative,” he said.

The company has also recently launched its Scholarship Programme for Indigenous Women in STEM, which provides full support for Indigenous Guyanese women pursuing their tertiary education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics.

In terms of employment, some 40 per cent of the company’s employees are Guyanese. In 2023, a total of 269 Guyanese were employed both onshore and offshore.

During a recent visit to the Liza Unity FPSO, DPI was fortunate to engage with one such Guyanese, who serves in the capacity of Assistant Safety Officer aboard the vessel.

Shaquwn Sealy

Shaquwn Sealy, 24, plays a critical role in ensuring compliance with the safety regulations outlined by SBM Offshore. As the company emphasises the safety of its employees, Sealy’s responsibility of advancing this charge is one that she takes very seriously.

She expressed that safety has become an integral aspect of her day-to-day activities, even when she is onshore.

For her, working offshore has not been easy, but she credits the welcoming and friendly environment created by management and staff for helping her to adjust.

“I had to overcome my personal challenges in terms of self-doubt. Coming to this environment where everyone onboard is so welcoming and respectful, and seeing how the system works, and everyone is eager to teach you, that made my journey a lot easier. The only challenges I have is missing my family, but out here we also have a family and we make the most of it. We have a women’s committee onboard for support, and that makes it a lot easier for me here as a woman,” she said, adding that employees are also involved in other bonding activities intended to boost morale.

She commended the accelerated pace of oil and gas development in Guyana and pointed out that this has created massive avenues for economic and social development.

When asked how she feels to be playing an active role in the expansion of the sector in Guyana, Sealy said:

“I feel proud and I feel that more Guyanese should get involved and get onboard. This is the future. This is where the major stuff is going to happen for Guyana’s economy. There has been a lot of job availability. You can see thousands more cars on the road, for example, and why? This is because things are being poured into our economy. I encourage persons to get on board and see where you can fit. Even if you have a small business, see where that can fit, whether it be farming or something else. We have to eat out here, so your farm could actually supply food here,” the young woman posited.

The expansion of the oil and gas sector in Guyana has had a ripple effect on the rest of the economy. Tourism, infrastructure, education, health, and even agriculture are just some of the sectors that are seeing tremendous growth.

“Oil and gas bring more than just oil and gas. It brings tourism, because everybody is hearing about Guyana. So, they want to see Guyana. We have many tourists and expatriates coming here with their families. They tour, they want to see Kaieteur Falls, they want to see different parts of Guyana. So, even though we are producing oil, there are other aspects of Guyana that are developing due to oil and gas,” Sealy shared.

Other initiatives outlining the company’s continuous pursuit and support of sustainability under the Local Content Act include the Green Farms Initiative, the Education and Awareness Programme on the Barima-Mora Passage, the Enhancing Livelihoods Youth Literacy Initiative, and the Hubu Aquaculture Project.