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Sunday 19 January 2020
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PM: DPP has AV Drilling details

DPP Roger Gaspard
DPP Roger Gaspard

THE Prime Minister on Monday invited Naparima MP Rodney Charles to “come outside,” in the climax to his impassioned defence of the authorities’ handling of the AV Drilling “fake oil” scandal, in the House of Representatives.

Accusing the Opposition of trying to confuse the public, Rowley said Petrotrin had done an investigation into the matter and all details had since been lodged with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to see if there had been any wrongdoing.

“The matter is in arbitration between AV and Petrotrin, where contractual liabilities are to be determined. If there is any criminal conduct, that is in the hands of the DPP.”

Charles pressed the issue. Claiming the PM was “intimately involved” and “the person is your friend”, he asked if Rowley would recuse himself if the matter came to Cabinet.

Rowley denied ever saying he was involved in the arbitration, still under way. “Nothing to do with me. If my colleague from Naparima knows of any reason I should recuse myself in this matter get up and say in this House, and better still, come outside and say it.”

Charles asked if Cabinet had agreed for Petrotrin to enter the arbitration. Rowley scoffed at the query, saying AV drilling and Petrotrin were in a contract, whose terms allowed AV Drilling to seek arbitration without any nod needed from the line minister.

“The contract requires arbitration triggered by one party. If you know another route then get up and say so.”

Rowley, replying to another question, accused the Opposition of mischief-making by saying the former Petrotrin had made a $1.6 B profit. He said that profit came from only the exploration and production of crude oil, but other areas such as refining had incurred big losses, putting Petrotrin overall in the red. He said the Opposition spread that story to try to hit the Government for closing Petrotrin.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, replying to another question, revealed that credit rating agency Moody’s had upgraded Trinidad Petroleum Holdings on April 15, ahead of the Petrotrin successor company seeking to re-finance its US$850m bond. He said ratings affect refinancing. “Moody’s upgraded Trinidad Petroleum (by) two levels to Ba3, while S&P kept Trinidad Petroleum’s ratings at BB.”

He said the exchange offer for Petrotrin’s bonds was launched on April 15. The original settlement date was April 26, then extended to May 10 and now to May 24.

Imbert said Trinidad Petroleum will be the bond guarantor.

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