Local businesses are trying to get a cut of the lucrative oil and gas industry.
How this will be achieved was addressed during an open meeting held July 21 by the Eastern Suppliers Development Alliance (ESDA) in Clarenville.
“What ESDA brings is the opportunity to bridge the gap between the small company who is operating day to day (and) week to week and the large projects, which have the long time frame,” ESDA project manager Bob Kennedy said.
The ESDA’s goal is to involve local businesses — including service providers and retailers — in the multi-billion-dollar Hebron project, which is set to begin in 24 months.
Kennedy said he can understand how overwhelming it can be for companies to find their place within the oil and gas industry.
The date for major construction work on the project is set to ramp up towards the end of next year and last until roughly 2017, when ExxonMobil, the project’s operator, has committed to pumping the first barrel of oil from the seabed.
Kennedy said in addition to information sessions held recently in Marystown, Clarenville and Placentia, he will work one-on-one and confidentially with companies interested in getting in the game.
.“Owners will come in and say, ‘This is what I do. This is what I think I can do. Here’s some of my aspirations,’” Kennedy said.
“My consulting role is to go away and think about that, and maybe come back to them and say, ‘Have you thought about this challenge? Have you thought about this opportunity? Have you thought about an alliance with someone else?’”
Keith Rodway, an executive with the Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce and ESDA, said he hopes the information sessions will help people realize that, “at a minimum, that no matter how small or how big your business is, there’s an opportunity to make money in the oil and gas industry. …
“It’s a matter of understanding who your customers are. We don’t need to sell Exxon. We need Exxon to be aware of us and for them to tell their subcontractors, ‘You need to shop locally and here’s how you do it,’ but our customers are going to be smaller customers.” - Bob Kennedy
“It’s a matter of understanding who your customers are. We don’t need to sell Exxon. We need Exxon to be aware of us and for them to tell their subcontractors, ‘You need to shop locally and here’s how you do it,’ but our customers are going to be smaller customers,” he said.
Although the ESDA is focused on Hebron now, the organization plans to expand its mandate.
“We’re looking at Hebron, because from a timing point of view, we can be successful at that,” said Rodway.
“Once we go down the Hebron road and we prove this system is going to work and we prove businesses can be successful, and then we’ll expand it to the oil and gas industry.”
Kennedy said there’s a “serious will” to involve Newfoundland companies in the Hebron project, moreso than with past offshore oil developments.
“No question they want to do this. Our job is to help facilitate it.”
The ESDA was formed by regional economic and business development organizations last year.
A year was spent consulting with oil and gas sector experts and businesses to come up with a process that makes sense.
The region is comprised of the Burin, Bonavista and Western Avalon peninsulas.
The organization includes representation from the Burin Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Clarenville Area Chamber of Commerce, Arnold’s Cove Area Chamber of Commerce, Schooner Regional Development Corporation, Discovery Regional Economic Development Board and Avalon Gateway Regional Development Board.
The ESDA recently launched a new website — www.esda.ca — with a database of regional businesses to provide a direct path for companies involved in the project to easily find goods and services.