PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (Sept 11, 2017) – The state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN, Monday announced that it had launched an investigation into reports of inconsistencies in the volumes reported from its exploration and production fields.
This comes after Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar claimed that a financier of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) had defrauded the company of an estimated TT$100 million over the past six months.
“PETROTRIN confirms that investigations are in progress with respect to reports of inconsistencies in the volumes reported from our Exploration and Production fields and that reported as received at our Pointe-a-Pierre refinery. These investigations are focused on the volumes for fiscal 2017 and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries has been informed,” the company said in a brief statement.
Addressing a meeting of her United National Congress (UNC) in in Couva in central Trinidad on Sunday, Persad Bissessar said that the unidentified company operating had overstated the amount of oil it was selling to PETROTRIN.
She said that in July, the company 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.
Persad Bissessar told supporters that the audit team discovered that the discrepancy had been occurring since October 2016, and that PETROTRIN discovered that the difference in the figures emanated from one particular field, which has been under the control of the same operator since 2009.
She said the internal audit concluded that the custody transfer process 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.
She said according to the audit, the the 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.
Persad Bissessar said it was estimated that between January to June 2017, the company overstated production by at least 350,000 barrels and PETROTRIN overpaid US$11.5 million and that 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,” she said, questioning the dismissal of the last board.
In the statement, PETROTRIN said its production fields are predominantly in south Trinidad and these include its own and third party operations.
“Current production from both our land and marine acreage is approximately 44,500 barrels of oil per day year to date and represents more than half of local crude oil production in Trinidad and Tobago.
PETROTRIN remains committed to managing the energy resources entrusted to us by the national community in the best interest of all stakeholders,” the company said in the statement. – CMC