October 15, 2021 – Georgetown, Guyana – This month, 5 years ago and just over 1 year following the ExxonMobil discovery of the Liza field, TOTALTEC Oilfield Services was formed when CEO Lars Mangal recognized the profound changes and potential future for his home country. Thus began the TOTALTEC journey that in many ways mirrors the one on which Guyana is now rapidly advancing. The 5 year mark provides an ideal opportunity to celebrate, take stock, and look ahead to the next half-decade and beyond, which we do in conversation with Lars.
It is Definitely There, but Where?
In 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed an assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources in selected provinces around the world, including 23 in South and Central American and the Caribbean. In the report USGS noted several provinces estimated to have significant undiscovered conventional oil potential, including the Guyana−Suriname Basin Province, with an estimated mean of 13.6 billion barrels of oil and 32 billion cubic feet of gas.
Their confidence was based on recent advances in understanding plate tectonics and the geologic evolution of basins, with the Guyana-Suriname one being analogous to the prolific MSGBC (the initials of coastal countries), or Senegal, Basin off the coasts of Senegal and Mauritania in western Africa (see reference article below).
ExxonMobil had extensive experience in West Africa, and as a highly successful global explorer, had confidence in the well researched USGS survey. Oil was out there, the question was where.
It began ‘exploring’ in 2008. This exploring was in the form of deep analysis of available data, subsequently acquiring additional seismic data, and finally undertaking the expensive step of drilling a deepwater well. In May 2015 they were rewarded when the Liza field was discovered.
“There is a powerful lesson for Guyana in the path that ExxonMobil took, from first acquiring the Stabroek block to the Liza discovery several years later”, reflects TOTALTEC CEO Lars Mangal. “It is that geoscience expertise, availability of all relevant subsurface data, and the latest software technology are critical to effectively finding and exploiting this precious resource.”
He continued, “It is critical that Guyana aggressively develop these 3 things, in particular having all data available for geoscience experts to be developed. While ExxonMobil is a highly professional company in terms of recognizing Guyana’s interests, they are primarily responsible to their shareholders. Guyana must have control of its own destiny - through geoscience expertise, subsurface data and the latest technology. This journey has yet to start.”
When the Liza discovery was announced, Lars’ industry experience told him that this was going to be the most significant oil industry development in the decade, if not beyond. He had worked with ExxonMobil as a service provider where the company had built up support operations for the development of offshore discoveries and understood both the challenge and opportunity.
Soon after the Liza discovery Lars was back in Guyana, faced with deciding the most effective place to start for the coming boom.
“Offshore operations, especially deepwater, have massive logistics requirements. Setting up and staffing a shore base able to function to international oilfield standards became the logical starting point for building capacity in Guyana”, said Mangal.
The capabilities to build and operate such a base needed to be brought together, and most importantly, in a suitable location. Muneshwers Ltd, led by CEO Robin Muneshwer had that location. While it was a well run support base, it was nowhere near the scale that would be required for deepwater developments. Although not exposed to the oil business, Robin was quick to appreciate what was coming.
“A shared vision was developed with Muneshwers Ltd, partner companies Pacific Rim Constructors, LED Offshore Ltd and TOTALTEC”, continued Mangal. “The Guyana Shore Base Inc. (GYSBI) was created, and in August 2017 was awarded the contract for supporting ExxonMobil Guyana. This was huge.”
It’s About Our People
The shore base would require people with new knowledge and skills, and most importantly imbued with the strong safety culture critical for the oil industry to operate.
“In parallel with the work to establish the GYSBI partnership, it was important to get started developing Guyanese to staff it” said Mangal. “Many Guyanese have foundational skills from our other industries and could quickly be in responsible positions, while others would be beginning a new career.”
In February 2018 TOTALTEC broke ground on the International Petroleum and Maritime Academy (IPMA). Experienced industry trainers were brought in and introduced industry accredited programs established. Learn more at https://www.ipma.gy/ .
Mangal continued, “Fast forward to today, we have provided training to more than 600 Guyanese and have our first fully qualified Guyanese instructor. Seeing these Guyanese starting careers and increasingly taking ownership of our new industry is very rewarding.”
Today GYSBI has more than 400 Guyanese (the majority having passed through IPMA) in a 94+% local workforce on a 130 acre site, functioning as a ‘one stop shop’ in support of all offshore activities. An internally developed competency program ensures career development.
Learn more at https://www.gysbi.com/ .
Looking to the Future
Much has happened in the 5 years since the Liza discovery. ExxonMobil has declared reserves of 10bn BOE and the Guyana-Suriname Basin will no doubt surpass that 2000 USGS estimate of 13bn BOE.
All international companies operating in Guyana recognize the scale and future for the region, and have been proactive in establishing a presence in the country, investing in infrastructure and developing Guyanese in support of their activities.
“Prior to the 2015 discovery, the activity of offshore exploration was invisible to Guyanese”, says Mangal. “Our early work in establishing GYSBI and training Guyanese in the Academy moved fast because of an urgent need for logistics support. The real challenge is to match that local capacity success in other domains critical to the industry. We now know we have a 50+ year industry. It is critical that local content initiatives both think long term and act with a sense of urgency.”
The MSGBC Basin and the Future of Exploration, IHS Markit, May 2019.
TOTALTEC is focused on the success of the energy industry in Guyana for the benefit of the country, its people, and partner companies. It does this through three areas: people, partnerships, and facilities. Qualified and motivated Guyanese develop through the International Petroleum & Maritime Academy, where more than 600 have been trained. Partnerships prioritize products and services that are starting points to grow from, creating new Guyanese led companies, for example Jaguar Oilfield Services. Facilities include Guyana Shore Base Inc (GYSBI, also a partnership) providing a complete range of services to offshore operations. The TOTALTEC 94% Guyanese workforce includes 6 nationalities with over 160 years of international oilfield experience. https://www.totaltec-os.com