Sunday 29 November, 2020

Petrotrin officials grilled on controversial Soldado Project, fake oil

Cost of Petrotrin’s Soldado Project balloons from $400M to $1.2B

A Joint Select Committee has slammed Petrotrin over the ballooning costs of its controversial Southwest Soldado Project from $400 million to $1.2 billion.

The parliamentary committee heard that phase one of the project is about 65 percent completed and has been significantly delayed due to several issues.

In 2015, Petrotrin engaged the services of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to conduct an audit into the Soldado Project corruption scandal, after allegations surfaced that the state-owned company paid an upfront commissioning fee of US$1.25 million to Mexican shipping firm, Maritima de Ecologia de CV.

Petrotrin’s Vice-President of Exploration and Production, Stephen Awah said phase one of the project was expected to take two years and was estimated to cost $400 million, but is several years overdue, with $1.2 billion spent to date.

Awah said phase one will be complete in 2019 at a cost of $1.7 billion.

He explained that procurement and contract issues led to the delay.

“There were quite a number of challenges with respect to the procurement of a temporary facility. There were approximately four attempts to procure a temporary facility,” Petrotrin’s Vice President, Exploration and Production said.

Petrotrin mum on fake oil scandal, expects resolve soon

Meanwhile, Petrotrin officials were also grilled on the fake oil scandal.

Noting that the matter is currently being investigated, Petrotrin chairman, Wilfred Espinet said he expects that the matter would be resolved soon.

“We assure you that this process is currently being pursued with a lot of attention and we anticipate that there should be a resolve within a very short space of time,” a guarded Espinet told committee members.

Espinet was asked to comment on the return of Vidia Deokiesingh to work.

He explained that Deokiesingh, who was implicated in the fake oil scandal proceeded on voluntarily leave in September and returned on December 4.

Petrotrin workers have been protesting Deokiesingh’s return.

The Petrotrin chairman said due process had to be followed, “We could not have just terminated Deokiesingh because it was expedient to someone to do it.”

Espinet added that there was little that could be said on the matter based on advice received by Petrotrin’s legal team.

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