NOBLE BOB DOUGLAS: A drill-ship that is a home away from home for not only the mostly foreign workers, who are currently, searching for more oil offshore Guyana, but also for the 14 Guyanese who have clinched jobs either directly with Noble or through sub-contracting arrangements for catering and logistics.
Either way, their local training and experience at institutions such as the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s Port Mourant Training School, Government Technical Institute, Carnegie School of Home Economics or the University of Guyana have moulded them for the opportunities they seized when advertisements had been placed in the local media.
ExxonMobil and Noble officials are impressed with the high quality of Guyanese human resources who are almost routinely sent to Trinidad or the United States for additional training or rigorous safety orientation exercises before they return to work either on Noble Bob Douglas or Stena Carron.
Whether they are working in the kitchen, at the heliport or in logistics support, the mostly young Guyanese are very happy that their applications were successful and they are part of a family-oriented network whose common objective is to find and produce oil in an ultra-safe environment.
“From the you wake up in the morning you hear the word safety. It is what is the most important thing on this ship”, said Marlon Humphrey who hails from Canje, Berbice. He formerly worked as a machinist in his hometown.
In a briefing session with workers in the presence of visiting journalists, the Noble Rig Master carried them through an almost militaristic segment.
No one is allowed to board any of the helicopters, operated by Bristow, to or from the vessel without being properly briefed in person and by video recording of all of the safety rules. Aboard the drill-ship, visitors are also briefed about safety on the vessel and can tour the vessel only if they are clad in overalls, gloves, eyewear and helmets.
Journalists were shown where exploratory drilling is being conducted and told about emergency safety mechanisms and procedures to shut off and seal the pipe to avoid oil spills.
Among the Guyanese aboard is a University of Guyana (UG)- trained Doctor Wilburg, who mans a the medical facility aboard the 755-foot long drill-ship that will also be responsible for the commercial pumping of oil from the Liza 1 reservoir. “The work here is much much more quieter than what I was accustomed to working at the hospitals,” she said. Wilburg can easily team up with foreign specialists via camera in case of an emergency until the patient is lifted off by helicopter to a hospital for emergency treatment.”
After Noble Bob Douglas completes exploratory drilling at Sorubim, the vessel will move back to Liza to prepare the groundwork for ‘first oil’ in 2020- when Guyana will officially become the Caribbean’s major oil producer, surpassing Trinidad and Tobago whose oil production has slumped to less than 100,000 barrels per day.
In case you are thinking that the Stabroek Block is located near Stabroek Market or just off the mouth of the Demerara River; not so! For instance the Noble Bob Douglas drill ship is located about 100 miles off Georgetown and the only way you can get there is by helicopter or ship. Then again, there is a 14 mile radius off-limits area so you will first have to get permission to enter that sea-space or land.
The drill-ship is kept in a virtually fixed position, even in bad weather, by sophisticated Global Positioning System and other related technologies. In contrast to a nearby supply vessel that was bouncing up and down the Atlantic Sea waves, the Noble Bob Douglas was barely moving while engineers continued to drill to a depth of more than 4,000 meters with the hope of finding more black gold.
Security was pretty tight with journalists being prohibited from taking photos aboard for the most part of the tour except the heliport. An ExxonMobil-assigned photographer was also fitted with a tracker to monitor his movements.