Since ExxonMobil drilled its first exploration well off the coast of Guyana in 2015, the energy giant has made several significant oil discoveries in the deep waters of this South American nation, already rich in natural resources. The company estimates that its offshore ‘blocks’ will yield 500,000 barrels a day when production starts in 2020 – or 600,000 by the end of the decade.
The news has sent ripples across the oil and gas (O&G) sector, with all eyes now turning to Guyana – a new and relatively inexperienced player in this high stakes industry. ‘Guyana’s Big Oil Find Could Lead to Riches or Ruin,’ declared Bloomberg in February of this year. The jury is still out on which it will be.
In the meantime, the rush is on to get Guyana’s infrastructure up to speed to meet the demands of being an oil and gas producing economy. One of the most important elements is ensuring it has stable, reliable connectivity with ample bandwidth.
As technology has advanced in recent decades, oil and gas extraction has become more high tech. New tools are being employed, from early warning systems and forecasting services to digital modelling techniques.
A Deloitte article, From bytes to barrels – The digital transformation in upstream oil and gas, noted: “Advancement in technologies, the falling cost of digitalization, and the ever-widening connectivity of devices provide a real competition-beating opportunity to upstream oil and gas companies who play the digital revolution right.”
And at a time of low oil prices, improving efficiency in operations is even more essential.
In Guyana, improvements in technology and connectivity have been rushed in during recent years to cope with the growing demand from business, government, NGOs and the general public. This has been further stepped up to support the growing O&G sector. The services on offer are varied and range from contact centers to complete IT networks.
Internet bandwidth is another key aspect of the technological capacity required for both onshore and offshore connectivity. With its sub-sea cable offering and terrestrial services, GTT – the largest telecommunications and technology provider in Guyana – has declared its readiness to support the O&G sector.
It was also the Official Telecommunications and Technology Sponsor of the inaugural Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit & Exhibition (GIPEX 2018) held in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, earlier this year.
Local vs. Global
As the list demonstrated, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd (EEPGL), which is managing operations on behalf of ExxonMobil and its two partner companies in Guyana, has already been employing local (as well as regional and international) companies to help it carry out the tough work ahead.
For those hoping to be part of the supply chain as contractors or subcontractors, meeting the required standards is crucial. To assist local companies, ExxonMobil last year opened a Center for Local Business Development, which it says provides “mentoring, coaching and access to financial support, as well as information on safety, technical standards and procurement opportunities.”
There is also a Supplier Portal where local and international companies can register for alerts of new bids and submit expressions of interest. Already some 1,200 businesses have registered with the website, which was created by two local software development firms: BrainStreet and V75.
And with the Guyana Companies Act allowing for any entity to be registered in Guyana as a Guyanese company, regardless of origins, local branches of overseas-based companies are able to move in and set out their stall, to capitalize on the profits of oil production once the black gold starts flowing.
Building for the future
New petrol states are known to take anything from five to 50 years to develop themselves to support the O&G industry. And even then there is still need to rely on providers of niche services or products, such as floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) – offered by less than a handful of companies in the world.
While Guyana may not be 100% ready for the arrival of oil and gas, it has time to find its feet. In the meantime, opportunities abound. In January, oilnow.gy quoted Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman as announcing an impending visit by representatives from Siemens to explore investment opportunities in the O&G sector. And they’re far from the only company to be making moves.
The oil industry is changing with the times, and innovative technology companies are the ones that are helping it adapt it to demands and realities of the 21st century.