Trinidad Opposition Leader dismisses “massive oil find” as a hoax
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday April 04, 2012 – Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has dismissed government’s announcement of a major oil find as a hoax.
This assertion was supported by Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert who said the “alleged discovery has all the distinguishing features of a hoax. No two ways about it”.
Speaking at a news conference at the opposition leader’s Port-of-Spain office, both MPs slammed government for taking the population “up a gum tree” with this “propaganda of a massive oil discovery”.
Rowley said the discovery was not new given that in 2007 Petrotrin had commissioned a study on the area of the find by Vetra Consultants. Last year, four appraisal wells were drilled, three confirmed the presence of the reservoir and one was dry, he said. He stressed that a detailed development plan to determine the reserves and their commercial viability now has to be done.
He claimed that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was driven to make the announcement by political considerations.
“On the day and very time when this announcement was made, the prime minister should have been meeting with her coalition partners to deal with political jhanjat [confusion] ... To distract the population from the effects of those kinds of political developments, lo and behold, we have the prime minister postponing her meeting ... and making an announcement geared solely, knowingly and deliberately to mislead the population and to put people in a feel-good mood ... that great things are happening ; that God is a Trini; we have a Jubilee oilfield; and very soon, in a matter of weeks, 12 months, we would be pumping oil,” he said.
In the process, Rowley said, the reputation and credibility of the Ministry of Energy for competence in dealing with the country’s economic lifeblood has been sullied and the country was being made a fool of in multinational circles.
“We have never had a problem before with treating with matters in the energy sector,” he said. “We are professionals at that. We are one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world. And we built up expertise both professionally and politically in dealing with it.”
Imbert, meanwhile, stated that in 2002, BHP Billiton discovered one billion barrels of oil from the North East Coast and one trillion cubic feet of natural gas, called the Angostura complex, which was “twenty times the size of this alleged discovery”.
He added that it was obvious that the technical people at Petrotrin were embarrassed by the statements of the politicians since they (the technical people) have made “very telling comments” such as: the quantity of the oil has not been proven; the commercial viability of the discovery has not yet been established; and they are not sure about the mix of oil.
Imbert said it could cost Petrotrin as much as $75 a barrel to produce this oil, and if the price it got was $75 a barrel, then there would be no profit. We don’t yet know if we would get any money from this oil, he added.
Rowley called on the prime minister and the cabinet to give data and details on this alleged massive oil find.