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Kamla calls for probe of $100m Petrotrin disparity
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar plans to write to acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and the Integrity Commission, asking them to investigate the findings of an internal audit which shows that a lease operator owned by a People’s National Movement financier had defrauded Petrotrin of close to $100 million over the past six months.
She told a UNC National Congress in Couva yesterday that a company operating in the Catshill field had overstated the amount of oil it was selling to Petrotrin.
Persad-Bissessar said in July, Petrotrin discovered there was a disparity in the quantity of oil it was purchasing from operators in the field and what was being received at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery. The internal audit department was asked to investigate.
She said the audit team discovered that the discrepancy had been occurring since October 2016, around the time that former energy minister Nicole Oliviere was replaced by Franklin Khan. Petrotrin discovered that the difference in the figures emanated from one particular field, the Catshill field, which has been under the control of the same operator since 2009.
She said the internal audit concluded that the custody transfer process at the Catshill field had been compromised based on the number of control issues identified during their visit to the field and analysis of the sales tickets and GPS records. This resulted in an overstatement of production and leakage from the company.
In the internal auditors’ opinion, this purchase of non-existent crude was the main contributing factor to Petrotrin receiving significantly less oil than the volumes recorded by its Exploration and Production department, she said. Persad-Bissessar said it was estimated that between January to June 2017, the Catshill operator overstated production by at least 350,000 barrels and Petrotrin overpaid US$11.5 million. She Petrotrin would have paid US$1.8 million in royalties to Government for oil not received during the six-month period.
“I want to challenge the Prime Minister today to tell the country that he did not know this was going on at Petrotrin. I want to challenge the Minister of Energy to tell the country today that he did not know this was going on at Petrotrin. I want to ask Andrew Jupiter today if this was the reason why he resigned from Petrotrin. I want to ask if this is the reason the Petrotrin board was fired,” she said
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