– to review Chevron’s application for oil blocksBy Samuel SukhnandanNatural Resources Minister Raphael TrotmanAs time draws closer for Guyana becoming an oil producing country, certain mechanisms are being put in place to prepare for this new industry and one example is a plan to develop an onshore oil facility.In an effort to get this started, Government has resumed dialogue with its eastern neighbour – Suriname – to look at the possibility of developing a joint industrial centre that will hopefully service both countries.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman told Guyana Times on Monday that Government plans to make preparations for a feasibility study that will determine the location and size of the facility.“We are hoping by the end of the year to hopefully start or finish a feasibility study to see where and what type of facility we are going to have. It is without a doubt we are going to have an onshore facility but it’s a matter of where and the design,” the Minister explained.Some US$500 million has been mooted by the Government to build an onshore oil and gas facility at Crab Island, at the mouth of the Berbice River. The facility, which will largely support ExxonMobil’s offshore oil exploration and production operations, will include heliports and supplies, maintenance and transportation hubs.Back in March, Trotman had stated that Cabinet had approved a consultancy whose report will guide the Government on the way forward on the matter of an oil refinery for the country.The Minister revealed that there had also been some overtures from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for the refining of Guyana’s oil, and said he expects a formal proposal to be made from Trinidad and Tobago in this regard.Trotman made the point that the current below optimum operating positions of Suriname and Trinidad bring into stark focus the need for Guyana to be careful in considering whether or not to have a refinery.However, while the Government had declared its unwillingness to build an oil refinery, after it was revealed by a US consultant that it was not feasible, they had welcomed private investors to submit proposals if they desire to build a refinery. But Trotman said no submissions have been made so far.Meanwhile, speaking about United States supermajor Chevron’s intention to participate in offshore activities in Guyana, Trotman said the company has put in a good application for some acreage.He said, “It is to be considered and I will be asking Cabinet in a few weeks for some guidance. But I would say it’s a very good proposal and it shows that Chevron as a world class company has very keen interest in coming into Guyana.”Meanwhile, touching on the training opportunities provided to locals in the oil industry, the Minister said that process has started not only at the University of Guyana but other educational institutions.“We are plugging little things like scholarships and asking companies themselves when they make applications to come into our country, as we are very keen on their corporate social responsibility, what are they prepared to give back by way of training and scholarships for young people rather than just saying they are coming to mine our oil and gold.”Successful drilling by ExxonMobil raised the stature of Guyana, as the company on October 5 announced its fifth offshore oil discovery in a little more than two years. Guyana is poised to become a significant producer as a result of the growing string of discoveries.The latest success is the Turbot-1 well, which encountered a reservoir of 75 feet of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone in the primary objective. ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana began drilling on August 14, and the well reached a depth of 18,445 feet in 5912 feet of water on September 29.Once the Turbot well is completed, the Stena Carron drillship will move to the Ranger prospect. An additional well on the Turbot discovery is planned for 2018.The Turbot-1 well follows previous discoveries at Liza, Payara, Snoek, and Liza Deep. The Turbot discovery is located in the southeastern portion of the Stabroek Block.