By: Andrew Carmichael
A batch of students has already commenced learning under the country’s first-ever oil and gas training institute; but the physical facility, situated in Port Mourant, Corentyne, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), will open its doors in a matter of weeks.
Thereafter, it will see the occupancy of these individuals, who are already meaningfully employed in the petroleum industry.
Most of the technical parts of the facility have already been installed, and the contractor is currently putting the final touches to the building; which is expected to be a leading facility churning out top-of- the-line workers to meet the requirements of the country’s rapidly expanding oil and gas industry.
Former Pro-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Clement Sankat, a Guyanese, will head the institute, officially named the Guyana Technical Training College, as its director.
The facility has been constructed to the tune of some US$100 million under a partnership between the Guyana Government and ExxonMobil.
In an exclusive interview with this publication on Wednesday, Professor Sankat explained that the first set of students have technically already commenced their courses, but are doing so at another location in the region. The Port Mourant facility is slated to open its doors in a matter of weeks, at which time the students will be transferred.
Professor Sankat explained that the first batch of 25 persons already had training in the oil and gas sector in Canada, and were selected from 400 applicants.
“Some from the Technical Institute in Georgetown and New Amsterdam, and I am very proud to say many from GuySuCo Training Collage at Port Mourant and a few from the University of Guyana. So, they come from a cross-section of prior trained students, and they come from all over Guyana, including some from the remote areas,” he pointed out.
These students will only be required to be at the Port Mourant facility for six months, since they would have already undergone an 18-month training programme which was funded by ExxonMobil.
It is the expectation that, next year, the facility will be fully opened – in a campus-like format – to accept even more students to undergo training in all aspects of the oil and gas industry.
According to Professor Sankat, the programme being developed by ExxonMobil is one in which students would be recruited and undergo studies in Canada preparatory to technical training.
“These students have done that, and now they are coming to this entity here, which is called the facility simulator (FACTOR), where they would be spending six months on essentially a factory – a simulator that represents the ships out there; the FPSOs. So, the students will be getting hands-on training on the equipment they are going to face on those production ships,” the Director further explained.
He added that the training programme at this state-of-the-art, first-of-its-kind college in Guyana will be akin to courses offered in the developed world, including hands-on experience in the mechanical technology that is used on ships in the oil and gas industry.
The courses will also cover experiences in the electrical technology used by those vessels.
“They are going to get hands-on experience on the implementation and the controls that they are going to face on the ships, because what we have here [at the college] is exactly a replica of that,” he explained.
Professor Sankat pointed out that government is trying to ensure that certification is internationally recognised and accredited.
“Our President is insisting that these students have certification that is globally recognised, globally accredited, and hopefully with certification from another institution – what we call dual certification. So, it is really first world education that we are going to provide here; nothing less than quality first world education in an area that is new to Guyana,” Professor Sankat explained.
Initially, the college would need about four instructors, and according to Professor Sankat, they will all be industry experts. At full capacity, the institute can intake about 150 students at any given time.
Meanwhile, outside of oil and gas, the facility is expected to offer skills training for other industries, such as the construction sector.