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Worker in fake oil fiasco also on state board

Published: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

The employee named in a Petrotrin internal audit report alleging close to $80 million in overpayments to operator A&V Oil and Gas Limited for oil it never supplied, is also a director on a state board.

The employee, who unsuccessfully contested a seat for the ruling People's National Movement in a general election, was one of two defeated candidates to be appointed to the board.

At a news conference earlier this week, Energy Minister Franklin Khan admitted he was part of the committee which screened the man as a candidate, but made no mention of his position on the state board. Khan could not be reached for comment on the issue yesterday.

Yesterday, however, vice president of the Contractors and General Workers Union Joseph Phillip, the union which represents workers at the state company where the man is a board member, said while the union is looking at what is going on but "cannot protest or reject anyone.”

The Petrotrin employee is remaining mum on allegations in the audit, which point to fraudulent activity in the Catshill Field for at least six months. That period coincides with the employee's stint as a crude procurement specialist responsible for fiscalisation of the crude from the field. It was also noted he was a regular visitor to the operator’s head office "although his job did not require him to do so.”

The audit report, signed by Petrotrin’s chief audit executive Rajkumar Bissessar, noted “many anomalies” in the sales tickers signed off by the employee.

"There were many instances where the volumes of crude specified in the sales ticket could not be pumped in the stipulated time frame, given the available pump flow rate,” the report stated.

It said there were times when the employee was not present at the Catshill location when the fiscalisation was being done, which meant he signed the sales tickets after the fact and accepted the figures specified by the operator. It also said he was present for very short periods of time when high gauges were being taken and therefore could not have been present for the entire fiscalisation process, which if done properly can take 30 minutes.

The employee was removed as crude procurement specialist in July. There has been increased oversight on Catshill since July and production has decreased significantly.

Figures for July 1-12 showed a daily average of 3,589 barrels per day, but the amount dropped significantly from July 13-31 to 1,369 barrels—the same amount recorded for August 1-10. The shortage reported for July was 36,302 barrels, down from 111, 006 barrels in June.

The internal audit team said it expected the figure to go down even further from August, the first complete month since the employee's removal as the crude procurement specialist at Catshill.

According to the report, this resulted in Petrotrin overstating its crude oil production and sending inaccurate well test and production information to the Ministry of Energy.