CARONI East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh has likened the return of the World Gas-to-Liquids (WGTL) project to that of a thief in the night, saying the project has cost taxpayers $3.3 billion and was the “costliest public sector scandal in living memory.”
Gopeesingh said the “ominous” return of WGTL comes against the backdrop of the “financial sinkhole” that is state-owned oil company Petrotrin, adding that Energy Minister Franklin Khan had “skirted” pertinent details of the project.
Speaking in the House of Representatives last Friday, Khan said Cabinet had approved a gas sales contract between the Energy Ministry and Niquan Energy Ltd to complete the WGTL plant at Pointe-a-Pierre.
Khan said the Niquan deal would give Petrotrin an opportunity “to salvage some not insignificant investment benefit from an investment which would otherwise not be operationalised.”
In a media release yesterday, Gopeesingh said the project comes on the heels of the “secret” Sandals deal and did not explain what became of an earlier effort to strike a deal with Niquan Energy.
“Without even a blush,” he said, “the Rowley regime has brought back a devastating project that has cost taxpayers $3.3 billion, in what has been the costliest public sector scandal in living memory.
“Equally disturbing is the fact that litigation under the Companies Act against the then-directors of Petrotrin was shockingly withdrawn by the PNM Administration, without a cogent explanation.”
Gopeesingh said Petrotrin has lost a staggering $12 billion over the past decade, with labour costs amounting to 55 per cent of operating costs, while monthly overtime is valued at $22 million.
“The company is heavily indebted, with hefty bullet payments due within months. For the past three years, the urgent and outrageous matter has been merely discussed by the Government, as if it were an idle bystander.”
Gopeesingh said Khan did not assure taxpayers of transparency in the agreement and did not detail the facts that led to the “spectacular collapse of the earlier WGTL deal and the measures that would ensure there is no repeat.”
Gopeesingh also said Khan did not state why the National Gas Company is being sidelined in the supply of natural gas to WGTL.
“The shady issues shrouding the unwelcome return of the WGTL venture provides no assurance to taxpayers of a sound business decision and value for money.
“Instead, it typifies the Rowley regime’s government-by-vaps, its utter shamelessness and its absolute disregard for the public purse.”