Early Intervention and Local Content Optimization

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited ("ExxonMobil"), an affiliate of Exxon Mobil Corporation, and its co-venturers Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, discovered oil in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana during the first half of 2015. The success of safely drilling their first well (Liza-1), followed a history of 40 dry holes in the Guiana Basin prior to ExxonMobil beginning ultra-deepwater oil and gas exploration in 2008 (Varga et al. 2021). Guyana, with a small population of 750,000, was primarily economically focused on agriculture, manufacturing, and the mining of bauxite and gold. ExxonMobil identified the need for an early, focused, coordinated, and long-lasting approach to local content planning to provide tangible results for Guyana. Developing local businesses to actively participate in the industry and enter the supply chain while raising awareness of how the oil and gas industry operates was paramount, as was managing expectations of the Guyanese government and populace about local content.

ExxonMobil recognized that the established mining sector in Guyana had the potential to provide a base of local suppliers able to transition into the emerging oil and gas sector. It subsequently undertook a number of assessments and studies on the local economy to further understand the local context. The finding of these assessments highlighted that most Guyanese companies were operating in the small local economy or working within the Caribbean region, limiting their exposure to international standards and providing little impetus to become globally competitive. Despite having technical competencies that could be utilized in the oil and gas industry, shortfalls were apparent in the areas of auditable systems, business processes, quality assurance, and safety. Closing the gaps would take time and investment, and a shift in culture in some parts. An internal assessment of ExxonMobil's supplier development programs was conducted, and a Guyana supplier development program was developed by drawing from best practices around the globe. ExxonMobil, with the support of its Stabroek Block co-venturers, took a proactive decision and devised a plan to engage an independent third party to run a "fit for purpose" enterprise development centre (EDC) to support the technical development in country through local content prior to final investment decision (FID).

In order to be equipped to provide early roll out of local content development, and 6 months before FID for Liza 1, ExxonMobil released a Request for Proposal (RFP). Bidders were invited to submit proposals on how the EDC would function "fit for purpose" and compliment rather than compete with current Guyanese activities and vendors. The successful bidder, DAI Global LLC (DAI), had a proven track record of international socioeconomic project successes and was selected to form a unique and collaborative, strategic relationship with ExxonMobil. Although DAI had previous experience in nascent markets, the challenge in Guyana was to expand the Guyanese supplier base into a new sector. The global experience of both ExxonMobil and DAI worked in tandem to produce a flexible management structure with the capability to adapt to the ensuing exploration successes and expanding industry needs. Both short and long term programs would be utilized to engage businesses for the changing needs of businesses during varying developmental stages. Additionally, ExxonMobil's foresight to incorporate local content requirements and contractual use of the centre into prime contractor contracts provided support for the long-term viability of the EDC.

The EDC established in Guyana was named The Centre for Local Business Development (Centre). The Centre design provides a supportive environment where seeking and acquiring information about the oil and gas sector is a comfortable experience. Inclusive of classrooms, meeting spaces, offices, and networking areas, the Centre sponsors engaging programs and provides mentorship for companies entering the industy. Drawing upon studies and data to drive the content and focus of its programs, the Centre addresses relevant needs in the business community. For example, a DAI baseline study on the international competitiveness of local businesses showed that two-thirds of Guyanese businesses were not internationally competitive and needed support with basic business systems (e.g. financial management, supply chain management and human resources). Other stakeholder focus group studies conducted by ExxonMobil determined that there was a lack of foundational knowledge about the oil and gas sector. Having access to this research pre-FID allowed for a head start on planning and enabled the implementation of a work program just 3 months after the Centre's opening.

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