Sunday 12 July, 2020

Energy Chamber wants speedy outcome into "fake oil" investigation

The Energy Chamber is calling for a swift outcome to the investigation into allegations of fraud in the transfer and sale of oil from the company A&V Drilling, to state-owned Petrotrin.

On Sunday, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar raised the “fake oil” issue as she cited an internal audit report dated August 17, which alleged that A&V Oil and Gas Limited, the lease operator to Petrotrin, had inflated its oil figures. According to Persad-Bissessar, the company supplied less oil to Petrotrin and defrauded the state-owned organisation of $100 million dollars.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Energy Chamber expressed concern over the allegations and called for the matter to be properly addressed.

“The Energy Chamber urges a speedy conclusion to the internal investigations and that Petrotrin takes all appropriate measures based on the final findings of the investigation, including referring the report to the police once due process is followed.”

“The Energy Chamber supports any comprehensive investigation into operators who sell oil to Petrotrin and appropriate action being taken whenever appropriate.  People must be held accountable for their action or inaction.”

Meanwhile, the Energy Chamber acknowledged that Petrotrin alone could not profitably produce oil which led to the involvement of smaller local and international oil companies under the lease and farm-out operatorships and incremental production programme.

Noting that the programme was founded in the late 1980’s, the Energy Chamber pleaded with members of the public to avoid the condemnation of the foundation.

"The lease and farm-out operatorships and incremental production sharing contract systems have delivered approximately 50 million barrels of oil to Petrotrin since the programme was founded in the late 1980s.  The current issues concerning the transfer of oil from one operator must not be used to discredit a programme that has brought significant benefits to Trinidad & Tobago."  

The Chamber further noted that the "fake oil" allegations highlight the importance of modernising the operations of the state-owned oil company to ensure that the highest international operating standards are applied.

“There are easily available automated technologies that are designed for custody transfer that can ensure accurate easily auditable measurement of both the quantity and quality of oil being transferred to Petrotrin.  This technology is already utilized by some of our member companies who operate in partnership with Petrotrin and the Energy Chamber would encourage this technology to be adopted across the entire sector.  Manual systems that rely upon batch quantity and quality sampling by an individual will always be open to manipulation and collusion.”

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