It’s really difficult even for the up-and-coming entrepreneur to get financial backing in the country.

Randy RAMBHAI Country Manager NATIONAL OILWELL VARCO

Apply Trinidad’s experience

July 2, 2018

Randy Rambhai, country manager for National Oilwell Varco (NOV) in Trinidad and Tobago, talks to TOGY about the status of the domestic oil and gas industry and business environment. In the domestic upstream sector, NOV operates in three business areas: rig systems, design-to-system integration and completion and production.

• On local experience: “Trinidadians tend to be very much ingrained in the oil and gas industry from a worldwide perspective. If we’re going to be more competitive as a country, we have to leverage that experience and knowledge we have gained from a practical point of view, to be able to enter new regions such as Guyana, Suriname and so on.”

• On manufacturing prospects: “If there’s going to be a push for Trinidad as a manufacturing hub, I think it’s going to come from local players first. A lot of things will have to change for a huge manufacturer to look at Trinidad as a manufacturing hub for the region, primarily in shipping. Currently, we can’t ship directly from Trinidad to many countries in the region.”

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How can Trinidad and Tobago increase its global competitiveness?
Trinidadians tend to be very much ingrained in the oil and gas industry from a worldwide perspective. If we’re going to be more competitive as a country, we have to leverage that experience and knowledge we have gained from a practical point of view, to be able to enter new regions such as Guyana, Suriname and so on.
In Trinidad, we tend to be more introspective than outward looking. People in Trinidad tend to open a business, keep it small, keep it family-oriented, pass it down to their kids and the focus stays in Trinidad and Tobago.

How do you assess the Trinidadian financial sector?

There are low interest rates and the central bank has very tight control of the banking system in Trinidad. It’s really difficult even for the up-and-coming entrepreneur to get financial backing in the country.
Let’s say I want to open a services company. I’ve been working for NOV for so long, maybe I could do something differently and start a Trinidadian business. They allow for that, but to find the money, they are not going to give you a loan.

 

Is NOV coming out with new technologies in Trinidad and Tobago?
Our technology, especially underreamers, is well known within the industry. We are focusing on innovation, R&D, design and engineering. We are starting to see innovative stuff coming out of our Conroe facility in the Houston area.
In 2018, we’re coming out of a serious slump in the oil industry, but NOV has continued to innovate and invest in new technology during these years.

Has it been difficult to work in the country with the foreign exchange shortage?
It’s been extremely difficult to get foreign exchange to do business activities. Companies are not able to meet some employee expenses or cover business trips.

Can Trinidad and Tobago become a manufacturing base for some companies in the sector?
NOV has actively considered the idea. It needs to be very carefully thought out.
If there’s going to be a push for Trinidad as a manufacturing hub, I think it’s going to come from local players first. A lot of things will have to change for a huge manufacturer to look at Trinidad as a manufacturing hub for the region, primarily in shipping. Currently, we can’t ship directly from Trinidad to many countries in the region.

For more information on NOV in Trinidad and Tobago, see our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN.
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