With astounding oil discoveries, enough to ensure that Guyana is not only propelled out of the grip of poverty but perhaps into being one of the richest nations around the globe, there is no denying that the emerging oil and gas industry is especially crucial. Steering Guyana to its ‘black gold’ destiny has been one of the major operators in the industry
- And the exploration work of this world’s largest publicly traded Oil and Gas
Company in the waters of this third world nation has been nothing short of phenomenal. With the ability to operate in depths of 1- to 2,000 meters of water, its work can easily be likened to putting a man on the moon.
Well, at least this is according to a man who has been playing a major role in helping Guyanese to truly be a part of this massive oil and gas movement.
Although Lars Mangal could have been just about anywhere in the world utilizing his oil and gas expertise, he opted to return to the land of his father – Guyana – to ensure that it is well prepared for a commodity that will eventually afford it a First World status.
Mangal, during a recent interview with this publication, shared his view that Guyana is not only blessed by its sizeable oil reserves but also because it has at its disposal the best in class operator – ExxonMobil – making its discoveries. “This is truly a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity that we are seeing and experiencing here in Guyana at the moment, and the country is fortunate to have an operator like ExxonMobil who has the capacity to do it and do it right,” said Mangal.
He added, “That’s very good for Guyana, to have one of the most professional companies with the capacity, not only financial but also the technical and operational capacity to develop and execute the types of projects that are going to be developed offshore Guyana at the pace being planned.”
As he considered the magnitude and pace of the work being done by ExxonMobil to realize Guyana’s oil and gas sector, Mangal made it clear, “this is not a small feat.”
In fact, he is convinced that there exists a wonderful opportunity for ExxonMobil, the government And people of Guyana to ensure that things are set up in the right way unlike many other oil producing countries that have had a long history of struggling to develop successfully and have missed opportunities to build real local capacity in a sustainable way the oil and gas industry the stakeholders, ExxonMobil, other operators, the government and civil society, to participate in
something that can truly be unique and successful and be a showcase for the world,” said Mangal, who has been lending his support through his company TOTALTEC.
Through the creation of strategic partnerships and building capacity with the best in class, knowledge, safety and integrity in focus, TOTALTEC is a company established by Mangal to foster the development capacity in Guyana for the oil and gas industry that is second to none.
“We form strategic partnerships with Guyanese and international companies that are going to be the foundation for a very successful Guyanese participation in its oil and gas industry in the future,” said Mangal of his company situated at 266 Earls Avenue, Subryanville, Georgetown.
Essentially, the company is one that has been preparing Guyanese to work in the oil and gas industry, even helping them to move from a place
where they were only able to provide offshore support or a very, very basic level of labor support to being able to participate in the more techniclly advanced operational positions.
SON OF THE SOIL
But exactly who is this man who has been helping Guyanese to do the unthinkable? Although he spent most of his adult life living abroad, Mangal, the son of Dr. Keshav [aka Bud] Mangal and the Danish Jonna Mangal, grew up right in Subryanville, Georgetown. In fact, he attended school in Georgetown up until the age of 15 when he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was there that he finished high school and went on to complete an honors degree in Engineering. With his engineering knowledge, he was able to secure a position at Schlumberger – the largest oilfield services company in the world.
“I worked with them around the world in various capacities – technical, operational and in the executive capacity for 20 years,” Mangal shared.
Well respected and fully attuned with the oil and gas industry, Mangal’s next career move was to join a medium sized technology company also involved in oilfield services, called Welltec, based near Copenhagen, Denmark.
There, he remained for a total of five years as the Chief Commercial Officer and Senior Vice President with responsibility for the company’s operations in Russia, the former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and continental Europe.
But then there came a point when this widowed father of two daughters – Soffia and Sole
– decided that it was time to relocate from Copenhagen, Denmark to London. However, it was during the process of relocating that he learnt for the first time that ExxonMobil was doing some exploration offshore work in Guyana. In fact, Mangal became quite intrigued when he heard news of the large oil discovery ExxonMobil had made in his homeland in 2015. “I decided that there was an opportunity for me so I chatted with my father, who was alive at the time, about the prospect of coming back to Guyana and setting up a company to participate
in the oil and gas industry for me to give something back in terms of building capacity and developing the opportunity to participate and support capacity building within the industry,” Mangal recounted.
He envisaged, of course, being able “to take some of the lessons that I have learnt along the way – what has worked and what has not worked – and bring that into the industry of Guyana so that things can be accelerated, especially in terms of local content and the participation of Guyanese in the oil and gas industry.”
INSPIRE AND DEVELOP
By 2016, Mangal was on his way back to Subryanville with a clear plan – to implement TOTALTEC Oilfield Services, a company embracing the mission to inspire and develop Guyanese capabilities in the oil and gas industry. The company has been showing encouraging signs.
“First and foremost, we are showing that it can be done. We can inspire, build and develop Guyanese and I think the most exciting thing for me is to see the enthusiasm of a lot of young Guyanese who want to participate in the industry,” Mangal confided.
Upon his return, Mangal, with the support of capable team players, was able to advertise for and recruit around 100 individuals who were brought on board in various capacities, including support and operational positions, on the shore base. According to Mangal, from the onset it was clear that many Guyanese were already excited about the oil and gas industry since “we had over 3000 applicants in the first week of advertising the positions we had on the shore bae.”
The enthusiasm was even more evident when the TOTALTEC academy was introduced with the goal of recruiting, employing, training, developing and providing career orientation for the oil and gas industry.
“We were so overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and the quality of the recruits we brought into the academy and the performance of those recruits,” said Mangal. This is in spite of the “very tough regime in the academy. The routine is six days a week [Monday to Saturday], eight hours a day and an examination every day and the pass mark is 85 percent,” Mangal disclosed. He proudly assured, “We have had no failures on the three programs that we have run so far this year.” Based on the modules being taught, a single programme could span eight to nine weeks and, according to Mangal, “we are employing all of the graduates. They don’t need to pay us; they are actually being paid to be trained.”
“So this is a very, very big investment from us,” said Mangal as he recalled, “When I first came to Guyana, I said we would aim to train 100 in the first year of setting up the academy. In fact, I didn’t think we would have been able to do it, but now I can tell you confidently that we will do it. We will train 100 Guyanese within the first year of launching the academy.
But not only has the academy been helping to prepare a growing number of young people for the industry, it has also been severing cultural
norms to include females in its training batches. “It has been extremely rewarding for us that we have also been able to attract young women to
the oil and gas industry to take up operational positions. Culturally, that is not something that you would expect,” Mangal mused. He added, “You don’t see young women on construction sites in Guyana. But, now we in fact have four young women on our operational safety programme and they will be graduating in October of this year. And we have another six coming in October on the fourth programme which will graduate in December of this year, giving us more than 100 Guyanese, including 10 young women, in the capacity to be able to participate in operational positions either
onshore or offshore in the oil and gas industry with the necessary skills sets and certification to do so.”
The TOTALTEC boss, moreover, added, “We are excited about that; that certainly has been a breakthrough.” Indeed the breakthrough was
one that was eagerly encouraged by patron of the academy, Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman. “I have been very pleased with
the results and the remarkable progress that we have been able to make and now we have, I believe, the momentum building to attract
more and more young women into the industry and not to be excluded from what was typically considered to be jobs and opportunities that
would be male dominated as it culturally is in Guyana,” said Mangal.
As he considered the important role that TOTALTEC has been playing, Mangal added, “We see ourselves as almost an incubator and a
partner to the oil and gas industry of Guyana.” In so doing, he explained that his company has the wherewithal to incubate ideas and opportunities even as it helps to develop both local and international partnerships to build capacity. The primary aim, according to Mangal, is not only to contribute in a sustainable way to making sure those businesses are successful, but to also ensure that they add value and bring
something back to Guyana that helps to build its participation in the industry and not simply allow skills, technologies, products, equipment,
etc. to be imported to support the industry. It is therefore Mangal’s expectation that there will be a strong industry development in Guyana that
will be sustainable in the long term.
“For me, it’s only the beginning and we are just getting started in building partnerships, in building businesses to support the industry, and this industry in Guyana will have a very long future ahead of it. If you benchmark other markets and other countries that started in the oil and gas industry 50, 60 and 70 years ago, they are still active, they are still producing,” asserted Mangal.
He, moreover, added, “With the scale of the discoveries that you have here in Guyana, we expect that we are at least looking at 50 to 100 years of strong sustained and hopefully very successful levels of production, of business and activities for the country, people and the companies involved.”