Former UNC Energy Minister, Kevin Ramnarine, has denied allegations that he ever received information or evidence during his tenure, of lease operators and farm companies overstating their oil production to Petrotrin, resulting in a lost of millions of dollars in revenue.
Ramnarnine noted there are attempts to spin this matter and to deflect and questioned why. “The facts remain that this was detected in January, 2017,” he wrote in a Facebook post in response to a controversy in which Petrotrin is now embroiled, as it relates to allegations of being billed for fake oil by A&V Drilling Workover Limited to the tune of almost $100 million..
In an earlier telephone interview, Ramnarine said he has been in the industry for a long time and has heard talk about over inflating oil, but nothing like this was brought to his attention as minister.
President General of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget said he did.
“With regards to this specific matter of pilferage of oil or over reporting of oil, during my tenure, I was not aware of any reports. I have been around the industry for a long time and you hear about such incidents, which speaks to how Petrotrin manages its custody transfer of oil.
“Seems to me that is the gap in which the abuse could take place. Also, the allegations are not limited to this particular lease operator, but extend to employees of Petrotrin as well,” Ramnarine submitted.
Ramnarine said this is a very serious matter and one which the President Fitzroy Harewood must give priority. At the same time he expressed disappointment on the silence of Petrotrin, while Energy Minister Franklyn Khan and his Permanent Secretary Selwyn Lashley take the lead.
“Petrotrin seems to be hiding behind press releases and the skirts at the Ministry of Energy. They need to come out and tell the nation what is happening.”
Ramnarine said what makes the matter worse is the delicate and fragile nature of the State company which has been asking its workers to make sacrifices and here it is millions are being lost through corruption.
“This is a very serious matter that has possible criminal implications. The matter is very damaging to the reputation of Petrotrin and to the reputation of the country and warrants some investigation by the Integrity Commission and by the Fraud Squad.”
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has given the undertaking to have the matter investigated and take corrective actions.
However, another one of the UNC’s former Energy Ministers, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan is on record as saying that the overstatement of fiscalized crude oil production by lease operators to Petrotrin is a recurring problem. She said various audit reports over the years have pointed to that fact and in 2010, her ministry engaged Petrotrin in discussions with a view to addressing this critical issue.