President General of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget rarely agrees with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad -Bissessar, but yesterday, the union boss supported her call for an investigation into the “fake oil” scandal at Petrotrin.
“It’s a scam, it is corrupt and the people involved are the people who are finding favour with this People’s National Movement (PNM) government,” Roget said.
This in response to an expose by Persad-Bissessar at the national congress of her party on Sunday, that one of Petrotrin’s lease operators contracted to supply its Pointe-a-Pierre refinery with crude oil, has allegedly defrauded the company of almost TT$100 million by inflating its oil production.
Persad-Bissessar read details about the disparity in the quantity of oil it was purchasing from the operator, she named, from what was actually received at the refinery.
“And people signing off on this (receipt of the oil),” Roget said.
“We are calling for a transparent and independent inquiry into the corrupt stealing of oil and the corrupting charging for oil that the lease operators did not produce. We made that call last week and we reinforce our call for an independent authority to investigate.
“Petrotrin cannot investigate itself, neither can the Ministry of Energy or the Ministry of Finance,” he said criticising the newly configured board for its lack of experience even as he called for the replacement of Permanent Secretary, Selwyn Lashley. Petrotrin confirmed that investigations are in progress to reports of inconsistencies in the volume of crude oil from their Exploration and Production fields and the volumes reported as received at the PAP refinery. Saying that corruption is not new to Petrotrin, Roget submitted, “The OWTU has consistently raised the issue of corruption with the lease operators, the farm out programme and the contracting of and giving away of lucrative wells.
“We raised that issue prior to the United National Congress (UNC) coming into office, when Malcolm Jones (then Petrotrin president) was there. We raised it when the UNC were there and we raised it again under the PNM. “It is just a matter of which party is in power and which corrupt contractor and contract lease arrangement benefits that party. So now it is benefitting the PNM, before it was benefitting the UNC and the PNM before and so on.” He charged that this is the reason why all Ministers of Energy have favoured the farm out and lease out arrangements.