…sets up new unitAs Guyana prepares for first oil early next year, local telecommunications giant GTT has readied itself to tap into the nascent oil and gas industry by providing critical data transmission services to leading companies in the sector using its multimillion-dollar sub-sea fibre optic cables.GTT CEO Justin Nedd display a piece of the fibre-optic cable at the ‘lunchtime lecture’ on TuesdayGTT Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Justin Nedd noted that companies in various sectors locally were getting ready to benefit from the vast fortunes expected to be generated from the petroleum industry and GTT was no different.In fact, he disclosed that GTT has already started providing key services to oil companies – including US oil giant ExxonMobil – which do not just include Internet connectivity.“It’s not only Internet, they need connectivity. So what the cable does is not only Internet but it could (be used to) pass data. Data and internet is not the same thing,” he explained during a lunchtime lecture on Tuesday at the Moray House on Camp Street. The event, hosted by the Guyana Press Association (GPA), sought to highlight and discuss how GTT’s submarine fibre-optic cables support the oil and gas industry.According to Nedd, oil companies usually collect extensive data from the Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessels (FPSOs), which – using the cables – can then be transported to a secure location or locations such as their office right here in Guyana or in Trinidad or in the US.GTT submarine cable (in red) offshore Guyana“The cables transport that data and it’s not necessarily over the Internet for, of course, privacy concerns because the Internet is a public network. The cable can also be used as a private network, and we have several customers that use the cables as a private transport network, separate from the Internet,” he posited.While he did not say how much the company has earned thus far from providing services to the budding oil and gas sector using its US$50 million fibre-optic cables, Nedd noted that in addition to providing a vehicle to transmit sensitive data, these submarine cables could also play a critical role with respect to unmanned rigs and pointed to the North Sea, where it was a prevalent practice.“The data comes in, and once every few months, they send someone out there just to do some spot checks. But the fibre really allows less manpower on the rigs, which really helps to improve safety and productivity and drive down cost,” he noted.The CEO went on to say that he foresaw an increase in demand for data from the petroleum sector, but noted that while there might be need in the future for large investments to facilitate this, GTT has already spent millions in having the infrastructure in place to support such extensive capacity. In fact, he disclosed that GTT currently only utilised just over 50 per cent of its network capacity.Not protectedHowever, even with these cables under water, the CEO of the telecommunications giant stressed that they were not protected from damage and while drilling was the biggest risk of damage to these cables, he noted that the likelihood of this happening was low.Nedd explained that for example in the Stabroek Block, every time Exxon went to drill a new well, it would write GTT to get a ‘no objection’ before drilling at a specific location.“They provide the exact coordinates and once that ‘no objection’ is issued, then they go ahead. So ships in the area (provide no) risks,” he explained.Nevertheless, the GTT boss posited that the local telecommunications giant in preparing to service the new sector, has invested big money in training its staff and has since established an oil and gas unit.“The oil and gas will change everything. In fact, I can tell you we have an oil and gas unit that deals with the folks onshore… We spend hundreds of thousands of US dollars per year in training,” Nedd stated.