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Few expats in TT oil industry now

By Chris Morvan Saturday, June 21 2014

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ENERGY TALK: President and CEO of the Energy Chamber of TT, Dr Thackwray Driver speaks at Surimep in Suriname....
ENERGY TALK: President and CEO of the Energy Chamber of TT, Dr Thackwray Driver speaks at Surimep in Suriname....

Trinidad and Tobago was at the forefront on day three of Surimep, the international mining, energy and petroleum conference held this week in Suriname.

TT representatives were at the conference to promote their expertise and pass on advice to a country going through the petrochemical boom that Trinidad did decades ago.

Following National Energy’s presentation on Tuesday, it was the turn of Dr Thackwray Driver, President and CEO of the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago. On a day that focused on corporate social responsibility, Dr Driver spoke of the need to create systems that drive up standards. He then moved on to the need for Suriname to increase the percentage of local people employed in the hydrocarbon industries.

“In Trinidad and Tobago there are now very few expats working in the industry,” he said. “The vast majority of the workforce is local.”

As part of this, Suriname needed to create a workforce of certified professionals, and while that certification would initially come from abroad (including, naturally, TT), the aim should be to reach the stage where certification bodies were set up and run by Surinamese experts.

Dr Driver stressed the importance of trade associations and the Chamber of Commerce in driving up standards, and showed what a broad spectrum of subjects needed to be addressed. In addition to technical expertise, safety was a crucial consideration and it was also important to have stringent anti-corruption measures in place. “In some countries you can be prosecuted for not having sufficient anti-corruption legislation,” he warned.

Lance Dowrich, CEO of Kenson School of Production Technology, continued the theme. He said he had heard there were 600 welders employed by Staatsolie and that they could and should all be local. Suriname should be producing its own instructors, trainers and assessors to bring employees up to certification, but that it shouldn’t end there. There needed to be a robust system of keeping records to track the progress of certified workers.

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