New petroleum dep't is small part of plans for UG's development - Vice-Chancellor

4th July, 2018 0 comments

Although the University of Guyana (UG) has started preparing to cater to nurturing skills for the oil and gas sector with its planned opening of a Department of Petroleum and Geological Engineering next January, Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith says it is only a small part of the comprehensive plans he has for the institution.

“The business of oil and gas is not limited to technology. Coming into the industry, we are going to need people with the education skills and expertise in many areas,” he said.

“Take law, for example. There is the likelihood that we will need, in the first years, more lawyers and accountants than petrol engineers. There are contracts that are going to be signed, there has to be management and oversight of the agreements, we need people for that. Then there is health and safety. We have to beef up what we are doing in that area… every time there is drilling, there is an Environmental Impact Assessment that is going to be needed. So, that in turn means our Earth and [Environmental] Science faculty has to be beefed up. The works are offshore, so we are going to have to consider what are the environmental marine biology impacts of it. That means we have to poise our marine biology work in the faculty of Natural Sciences to cater for that and the list goes on. Every single faculty needs upgrades to cater for this. Us being an oil and gas-producing country requires us to transition for that new dispensation,” Griffith told Stabroek News in an interview.

Lifting the university’s standards and making its graduates globally competitive are key among Griffith’s plans but he is also passionate about the establishment of a department that focuses specifically on oil and gas training. He believes that it is necessary that locals should be equipped with the education and skills needed to work in a sector likely to be the country’s biggest revenue earner for many years.

‘Strengthening the pipeline’

It is why he has partnered with the University of the West Indies and the University of Trinidad and Tobago to establish the Department of Petroleum and Geological Engineering.

“Last week’s set of events was part of the events to prepare for what I call our oil and gas adventure. Last week, I hosted the President of the University of Trinidad and Tobago [Dr Sarim Al-Zubaidy]. We know that we can’t do this by ourselves. We know that we are going to be establishing a new department and we don’t have all the labs, facilities and lecturers that are required,” he said, while alluding to the week of activities on oil and gas that the university hosted.

He said based on an invitation he had extended earlier in the year, Al-Zubaidy travelled here. It was during the visit, Griffith said, that he facilitated a luncheon with the UTT President and stakeholders, including government officials, university personnel outside of engineering and technology, the Ministry of Education’s Technical and Vocational personnel and the heads of the technical institutes.

From the discussions at that meeting, the Vice-Chancellor proposed the formation of a consortium so that all the tertiary institutions could “partner better in preparing for the oil and gas.”

“Not all the skills needed are going to be at the university level. Some will be needed at the technical college level. We don’t do welding here at UG, we don’t do carpentry and some of those things are definitely going to be needed,” he said. “But we know that persons from the technical institutes come to us to complete their university or associate degrees and we need to strengthen that pipeline. So the consortium is intended to strengthen the pipeline. If there is a lab that we have that is not being used and they need to use it, then they can have. I want to formalise that,” he added.

To foster and realise the skills needed for global oil and gas accreditation, the Vice-Chancellor said UG will have to look to its regional counterparts for help, initially, and he has started forging partnerships with UWI and UTT.

But to bring personnel from the universities would require paying them at competitive rates and having local students travel to complete some practicals. It is in this area that the traditionally cash-strapped institution will be turning to government and oil and gas stakeholders for assistance.

‘Digging a hole’

Government has already committed to half a billion dollars over a five-year period for works in the Technology faculty but more funding will be needed.

“Our university has grown up almost digging a hole to fill a hole, having lecturers having to scrounge to do two, three jobs because you are not paying them enough. We have to change that. The relevant stakeholders and the relevant stakeholders are government, industry and the students, have to be prepared to put the resources into the university,” Griffith said.

“I am very pleased that the government is already beginning to demonstrate that. We signed an agreement with [Natural Resources] Minister [Raphael] Trotman last year where we get $100 million per year, for the next five years, to help shape up what we have in mining and for energy that is coming.  I also have a lot of support from the Ministry of Public Telecommunications.  But we are not all there as yet, which is why we have to partner. Some of what we know is that we will need some lecturers from UWI to teach some of these courses. So, some of them will come to teach. Some of it will be online, but we also know that we will have to hire new people and we are going to be doing that in several different respects, both for the new department and for the existing departments. We don’t have enough lecturers in electrical, civil and mechanical engineering, so we are going to have to find the money to invest. So, the money is going to have to come from the government, going to have to come from the industry, [going to] have to come from students,” he added.

Griffith explained that the university has a planning committee that is crunching numbers and gathering data to determine how much will be needed annually to fund the new department while meeting local students’ abilities to pay the tuition. He said that he does not want to go to government or any company asking for aid until the university finalises an approximation.

“I have a committee that is working on the general costing but we are also working with UTT and UWI on those two programmes to be delivered in January and we have to finalise the cost. We are not exactly there yet. How much would come from government? I don’t know because I don’t want to go and ask for specific sums and don’t know what we are asking for. We have been getting small things but I am not comfortable that we have all the data as yet to go ask,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

“One of the worst things you can do is ask for channa money then to find out what you really need is real money. So, I know people are excited for us to go to Exxon and get US$50,000 now when it will be really US$5 million that is really needed. So we are still having conversations with Exxon and others but we know that we are going to need major investments. We need the data, we need approximate costs. So, when we sit down with them, we can say, “Here. This is what establishing the lab would cost, this is what it would look like, here is what an endowed share in petroleum would be, here is what a professor of practice would cost us annually,” he added. 

With Guyana is poised to start collecting significant revenue with the slated start of oil production in 2020, he stressed that government needs to invest heavily in education if it wants to see holistic growth.

“The government needs to take some of that money from oil and gas and put it into education; put it into the university; put it into agriculture and diversify, not just get stuck on oil,” he added.

Article adopted from: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2018/news/guyana/07/03/new-petroleum-dept-is-small-part-of-plans-for-ugs-development-vice-chancellor/


Sound legal, regulatory framework for oil urgently needed

1st July, 2018 0 comments

With Guyana an emerging oil and gas country and with several agreements signed with companies, the primary focus now should be on establishing a sound legal and regulatory framework. 

 “One of the first things you need is that your legal framework must be in place,” University of the West Indies Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Clement Imbert, last Thursday evening told a University of Guyana oil and gas forum.

“What petroleum Act you operate in the country with what regulations etcetera, that legal framework for the operations of the petroleum sector is very important,” he added, as he explained that it was needed to guide what type of approvals are needed by an oil company, such as if they needed approvals   for drilling, development plans and other up, middle and downstream works.

The Deputy Chairman of the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s Board of Governors told attendees at the University of Guyana’s fifth Conversation on Law and Society, which was held under the theme- Some Economic and Educational Imperatives of the Oil Business- that Guyana needs to move swiftly to get its petroleum laws in place as it plans for the future.  Laws, he said, are important as the country and government take into consideration what contractual arrangements will guide the disposal of future oil blocks.

President of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Sarim Al-Zubaidy, Trinidad and Tobago Methanol Company Chair and University of the West Indies Professor, Andrew Jupiter and retired US Department of Energy Engineer, Dr. Vincent Adams were also part of the panel discussion.

They all underscored the importance of education and training of Guyanese to not only efficiently verify and monitor the sector but to provide the skills needed to use revenue collected from the depletable resource for sustainable economic and other diverse programmes.

Speaking to Stabroek News after the event, Imbert echoed most of what he told attendees at the event, which was held at the Duke Lodge, Georgetown and said that the country has no time to lament on what has happened in the past but must focus on what is best for it going forward.

“Shell and those are coming, there was an eighth oil discovery announced yesterday, whatever happened in the past happened in the past and that is irrelevant now. What is relevant is that you get the best deal that you can get now with the others that are coming and have systems to manage what you already have and plans on what to do with those revenues…because it is a whole lot of revenue, I can tell you,” he said.

“Ensure that your institutional infrastructure is in place to deal with the oil and gas windfall that you have. The infrastructure, whatever commissions, whatever laws you have to craft, you have to start thinking of it immediately so that the governance and the regulations of what is going to happen in the industry is to your benefit.  And you must make sure it is that. You have to start preparing your population now. Start educating them now,” he added.

Equally important and Imbert’s advice to the Government of Guyana, was for it to ensure that part of future oil deals caters for a substantial contribution to the education of Guyana’s citizenry, particularly  in the area of tertiary education.

He said that the laws and regulations will ensure that companies are held accountable even as the environment and populace are protected.

Cannot depend

“You cannot depend on the companies to tell you the truth. If anyone of them  is here forgive me…but you have to verify everything they are telling you. So, your state commissions, ministries, etcetera, all have to be well equipped, as well as the infrastructure and human resource. I am talking the laboratories… the lawyers and so on needed to do the verification to ensure you are getting a fair deal,” he said.

“The education of these people is very important. I spent the first eight years as inspection engineer. The education of your population for all three areas- the service, direct, and all other businesses that service the oil companies, directly and indirectly, are important.  You must have a very educated population to deal with that. You cannot depend on what they tell you, ‘Oh Don’t worry about anything’…no! …the world is global and you have to think of that too,” he added.

Former Attorney General and People’s Progressive Party/Civic  Member of Parliament Anil Nandall agrees with Imbert on the passing of laws and regulations for the sector and lamented government’s current sloth in ensuring the passage of the Petroleum Commission Bill.

“The Petroleum Commission Bill is obviously one of the most important pieces of legislation. Neither its importance nor its urgency can be over-emphasized. The law that will lay the foundation for Guyana’s emerging petroleum industry. Naturally it will have to undergo several changes after its promulgation. Yet, it has been parked in a select committee for the longest while with no discernable interest in the government to expedite its consideration in that committee. Several months have passed and a single meeting has not been convened,” Nandall lamented.

“So currently, there is no modern regulatory framework in relation to the petroleum industry and the government feels abnormally comfortable with such an unfortunate state of affairs. The bill that is there is not a bad bill except that it (reposes) an unusual amount of power in the minister rather than the commission. Most of what has to be done, is a transfer of the power over to the commission and you will have a fairly good bill as a start,” he added.

Nandlall said that no reason has been given by government for the delays.

“You will note that the 11th Parliament is comparatively one of the least productive parliaments over the last 20 years in Guyana. The Parliament sits less than once per month. When we were in government, even during while we were in a minority government, parliament sat as frequent as once per week on one occasion. We had a packed parliamentary agenda. Now there is hardly a legislative agenda from this government and the few bills that they are bringing. If they are sent to select committees, they are stuck there,” he said.

“Currently there are a series of bills stuck in select committees and there are no good reasons why this is so. But one of the reasons is because ministers are flying around the world and the government, because it has a one-seat majority, doesn’t go to parliament unless all its members are present, which is unusual and a rarity. So one cannot even predict when this bill would come out of the select committee” he added.

Article adapted from: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2018/news/guyana/06/25/sound-legal-regulatory-framework-for-oil-urgently-needed/


Pour oil money into education - University of Guyana's 5th Conversation on Law and Society

1st July, 2018 0 comments

VISITING President of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Sarim Al-Zubaidy has told the University of Guyana’s 5th Conversation on Law and Society that investing oil revenues into education would help fuel further economic growth.

Guyana must also follow guidance from oil-rich countries so as to avoid their mistakes, Al-Zubaidy told the audience on Thursday evening while stressing that “education fuels economic growth…Build the local capacity and capability and ensure that you introduce your local structures into the final process so that you achieve the success of the successful countries.”

Al-Zubaidy also said Guyana must take full advantage of the contribution of the oil sector and use the revenue to transform the economy. “It is therefore imperative that the revenue derived from the sector be maximized and used for the transition of Guyana’s economy to one which is internationally diversified. This would ensure that the life is enjoyed by the future generation.”

The professor, who is an engineer with over 30 years experience in senior academic and administrative positions, also mentioned that developing and maintaining a category of skilled professionals is also very important. From this, he said that the developed personnel should be in place before and after production begins so that the country is not dependent on what is said by the oil companies.

After the presentation, the conversation with the audience began featuring input from Al-Zubaidy, Trinidad and Tobago Methanol Company Chair in Petroleum Engineering Prof. Andrew Jupiter, University of the West Indies Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Clement Imbert, and retired US Department of Energy Engineer Dr. Vincent Adams.

The conversation revolved around the investment in education which would, in turn, bring about long-term sustenance. It was also said that the government must get the best deals in any production sharing agreement and ensure that parts of these deals have a substantial contribution to education.

Guyana was encouraged by the professors to learn from their country’s failures. Finally, the country received the advice to not only look at the revenue from energy but look at diversifying the economy and not to forget about our other resources.

Article adapted from: https://guyanachronicle.com/2018/06/24/pour-oil-money-into-education


Guyana verifies oil exploration data, as experts stress need for robust system

1st July, 2018 0 comments

Guyana has been receiving seismic data and verifying the amount of oil being discovered and the wells that are not commercially viable, the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commissioner, Newell Dennison said.

“We are sufficiently competent to see if what they are saying in terms of what has been represented makes sense so there are formulas, for example, that engineers and geophysicists- and we do have engineers here- can apply in, for example, a downhole log, the logs that are generated that come into our possession. They can look at those logs and from the responses on those logs, we can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’…,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. Dennisson said so far Guyanese authorities were satisfied with the declarations being made. “So far, at least from where I sit, we are satisfied with their prognosis,” he  said.

ExxonMobil’s Public and Government Affairs Officer, Kimberly Brasington said,  when asked whether her company provides all of the seismic data to Guyana to allow the country to independently verify the amounts of oil found at each well or if they are not commercially viable, said, “Yes, well data is provided to and reviewed with both the GGMC and the Minister of Natural Resources as well as our partners Hess and Nexen, as required by our agreement”.

Other industry experts said consortia such as Esso Exploration and Production (Guyana) Limited- ExxonMobil, Hess, Nexen- usually hire independent consultants to independently verify the oil discoveries for each partner. The experts said even if ExxonMobil or any other company does not consider an area economically feasible, when the area is eventually relinquished that does not prevent Guyana from assigning that area to another company that might consider it as having commercial interest.

Those assurances came against the background Chair of Petroleum Engineering at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Trinidad campus, Professor Andrew Jupiter saying that Guyana needs  highly trained personnel to interpret the seismic data to determine whether the amounts of oil declared by oil companies are accurate.

“You have to train the best in your country so that you get all the data from that well because…,according to the legislation, all the data belong to the government of the Republic of Guyana so that it means that all the logs that you are on…they will interpret it and you will be able to have an independent calculation,” he told a University of Guyana-organised 5th Conversation on Law and Society: “Some Economic and Educational Imperatives of the Oil Business.”

While Jupiter said Guyana could hire consultants in the interim, he advised that Guyana should be wary of their connections to oil companies.

Former United States Department of Energy (DoE) official,  Dr. Vincent Adams added that Guyanese on-sitewould need “free, unfettered access” as part of a verification system. Accountants, he said, are usually required to be present and operating from the same system as the contractor to have access to the information. “We own that information, not the contractor so the most important thing that we can do is to provide oversight,” he said. Adams stressed that Guyanese personnel would have to be trained as good as or better trained than the contractors’ personnel. “They (Exxon and other oil companies) know that. They operate under those same conditions outside this country and we should expect no less and they are expecting us to do it here. It’s nothing we are dumping on them that they are not used to,” said Adams who is also the Engineer-in-Residence at the University of Guyana.

UWI Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Clement Imbert earlier in the presentation stressed the importance of verification by lawyers, accountants to ensure that “you are getting a fair deal” instead of being told that the country would get the monies to spend on economic diversification.

“You cannot depend on the oil companies to tell you the truth… You have to verify everything that they are telling you so that your State Commissions, the Ministry etc. They have to be well-equipped- human resource, as well as the infrastructure- the laboratories, the testing facilities etc;” said Imbert who was an inspection engineer in the oil industry.

ExxonMobil said The current estimate for the Stabroek Block is more than 3.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent and certainly would be more after more data is processed. Brasington explained that Longtail and Ranger drilling results are under evaluation. However, the combined estimated recoverable resources of Turbot and Longtail will exceed 500 million barrels of oil equivalent. Turbo is included in the previously stated 3.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent number.

Based on Trinidad and Tobago’s experience in the oil and gas sector, Professor Imbert recommended that Guyana gets the “best deal” in the Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) to include a “substantial contribution” to mainly tertiary education. In apparent reference to heated public criticisms of the Guyana-ExxonMobil PSA, Imbert said there was no time to look back. “Whatever happened in the past, happened in the past and whatever debate that’s going on now, that is irrelevant. The past is the past. Get the best deal you can get now for that,” he said.

The 2016 revised PSA provides for US$3 million of the US$18 to go to training, in addition to an annual pay-out of US$300,000 each for corporate social responsibility, and capacity building. Projections are that Guyana will earn US$380 million annually from royalties alone, plus a year licence fee of US$1 million.

The UWI academic further recommended that governance and regulation be strengthened to Guyana’s benefit with the establishment of laws, regulations and commissions.

Guyana plans to pass legislation to provide for the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, Petroleum Commission and Local Content. Guyana has been tapping into industry expertise in that regard from The Commonwealth, World Bank, Norway, United States and Canada.

Article adapted from: http://demerarawaves.com/2018/06/22/guyana-verifies-oil-exploration-data-as-experts-stress-need-for-robust-system/


Pour oil money into education

1st July, 2018 0 comments

Visiting President of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Sarim Al-Zubaidy has told the University of Guyana’s 5th Conversation on Law and Society that investing oil revenues into education would help fuel further economic growth.

Guyana must also follow guidance from oil-rich countries so as to avoid their mistakes, Al-Zubaidy told the audience on Thursday evening while stressing that “education fuels economic growth…Build the local capacity and capability and ensure that you introduce your local structures into the final process so that you achieve the success of the successful countries.”

Al-Zubaidy also said Guyana must take full advantage of the contribution of the oil sector and use the revenue to transform the economy. “It is therefore imperative that the revenue derived from the sector be maximized and used for the transition of Guyana’s economy to one which is internationally diversified. This would ensure that the life is enjoyed by the future generation.”

The professor, who is an engineer with over 30 years’ experience in senior academic and administrative positions, also mentioned that developing and maintaining a category of skilled professionals is also very important. From this, he said that the developed personnel should be in place before and after production begins so that the country is not dependent on what is said by the oil companies.

After the presentation, the conversation with the audience began featuring input from Al-Zubaidy, Trinidad and Tobago Methanol Company Chair in Petroleum Engineering Prof. Andrew Jupiter, University of the West Indies Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Clement Imbert, and retired US Department of Energy Engineer Dr. Vincent Adams.

The conversation revolved around the investment in education which would, in turn, bring about long-term sustenance. It was also said that the government must get the best deals in any production sharing agreement and ensure that parts of these deals have a substantial contribution to education. Guyana was encouraged by the Trinidad professors to learn from their country’s failures. Finally, the country received the advice to not only look at the revenue from energy but look at diversifying the economy and not forget about our other resources.

Article adapted from: http://dpi.gov.gy/pour-oil-money-into-education/


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