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Thursday 19 July 2018
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PM’s friend demands $48M from Petrotrin

Petrotrin's refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre

A&V Drilling and Workover Limited, owned by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s friend Nazim Baksh — now at the centre of the $80M ‘fake oil’ scandal — has sent a pre-action protocol letter to state owned Petrotrin and Energy Minister Franklin Khan, warning of court action if the oil company does not cough up $48 million which AV claims it is owed.

A&V Drilling contends, in the legal letter penned by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, that Petrotrin by withholding payment of $48M which represents money owed for oil produced by A&V in June and July, it has acted on a preliminary finding of an audit report which alleges Baksh’s company submitted claims for oil amounting in excess of 350,000 barrels from its Catshill, Barrackpore field which Petrotrin says, it did not receive.

The legal letter was addressed to Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet and copied to Minister Khan. In the letter, Maharaj claimed that Petrotrin issued 100 tickets to A&V which constituted receipt by the state company of crude oil from A&V from the Catshill field wells. AV is one of several lease operators drilling for crude in the Catshill area in Barrackpore.

The letter claimed there were errors on the dates of the low dips on two of the tickets prepared by Petrotrin. “It is therefore disingenuous and wholly disproportionate for Petrotrin’s internal auditors to make findings based on these two discrepancies,” Maharaj stated. Further, the A&V lawyer said, there are 18 lease operators assigned to the same tank farm in Barrackpore, but Petrotrin elected not to audit any other operator.

Maharaj’s letter pointed out that Petrotrin’s audit report incorrectly stated that A&V’s bulk storage tank No. 7, was limited to 4,768 barrels when it is in fact 9,835 barrels as certified by the Ministry of Energy. Maharaj said that reported production is not the same as fiscalisation production. Maharaj informed the Petrotrin chairman that his law firm has since advised A&V that the audit report findings are baseless and without foundation. In fact, he stated that Petrotrin did not consult with A&V before releasing the report and A&V did not have the opportunity to give an input and present written responses.

Maharaj is calling on Petrotrin to pay A&V US$6,310,438.66 (TT$48.3 million) for invoices for June and July crude oil supplies from Catshill.The letter also threatened legal action against Petrotrin for defamation.


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