Consultations on the strengths and weaknesses of Guyana’s draft local content policy are yet to begin. But this has not stopped USA oil giant, Exxon Mobil from bringing one of its own specialists, Dr. Michael Warner, to advise the Government on how the highly-criticized draft policy should be implemented.
According to ExxonMobil, Dr. Warner brings 20 years of experience in the local content arena. But an exclusive interview with the specialist exposes whose interest Warner is versed in representing.
On Thursday, Dr. Warner acknowledged that he has never singlehandedly written a local content policy for any country moreover instituted one in his lifetime. In fact, his experience on local content is mostly based on creating one page local content strategies for oil majors.
Dr. Warner worked as the Local Content and Supply Chain Sustainability Manager for BG Group for about three years before branching off to his own company called Local Content Solutions (LCS). Before BG Group, he trained and advised decision makers in the corporate and government sectors on how to implement and follow up on local content policy, agreements and decisions.
He also worked with the World Bank as a Coordinator for Development Programmes in the Extractive Industries. This involved being part of teams which drafted local content policies for a few nations.
With such an extensive background, Dr. Warner believes that he is more than qualified to help oil companies navigate their way through the local content policies being used by nations.
When it comes to Guyana, the specialist proffered that he was brought in at the right time to represent ExxonMobil in the area of local content.
The professional clarified that he is not here to critique the draft policy. But in the same breath, he opined that the draft policy is “appropriate for Guyana’s current circumstances.”
Dr. Warner stated, “My role here is not to give a critique on the policy or give answers as to what the definition of a local company or local content should be. I was brought by the Centre (For Local Development) to lay out experiences of what should happen next…There now needs to be a structured process of collaboration to get the policy to work…Everyone is aligned with that idea.”
The Local Content Specialist also responded to criticisms that he has no business speaking to Guyana’s authorities about how it should implement its local content policy.
Dr. Warner said, “All over the world this is what happens. You have to give the oil company, one of the industry stakeholders, input in the evolution of the policy…The policy says the next phase will be collaborative and pragmatic and that is why I am here. The policy will not work if you don’t get the main opinion from the investor. The policy won’t work if you don’t get the investors to play ball…”
Not only is Dr. Warner an employee of ExxonMobil but his company, LCS, was recently acquired by DAI International Group. DAI is an American company that manages ExxonMobil’s Local Content Centre for Development on South Road, Georgetown. He continues to provide training there on how local businesses can fit themselves into ExxonMobil’s supply chain.