For more than two years - long before the “fake oil” scandal broke last November, the TT Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative had been asking A&V Oil and Gas Ltd to participate in the transparency process. The company, which had operated the Catshill Field in South Trinidad owned by state oil company Petrotrin, repeatedly refused, TTEITI chairman, Victor Hart said last Thursday.
As the feature speaker at TT Transparency International’s annual general meeting at its office in the Fernandes Industrial Compound, Laventille, Hart said the EITI executive had met with A&V at least three times to explain to them the benefit of participation.
“They listened politely and said that they don’t need that kind of transparency. One wonders why,” Hart said. A&V, an independent lease operator, was ultimately determined through an independent audit to have been overstating the amount of oil it produced and reportedly sold to Petrotrin – to the tune of nearly US$11 million.
The lease was terminated and on March 1, and returned to Petrotrin to manage. Participation in the EITI is voluntary, Hart said, so A&V was within its rights to decline to participate in its auditing system.
What the group is now lobbying for is the introduction of legislation that will compel energy and extractive companies to participate and be fully transparent. He said the EITI has already drafted legislation and submitted it to the Ministry of Energy for review. “It’s the most important governance initiative taking place in TT,” Hart said.