By Capil Bissoon
If the UNC had displayed a “displayed a complete lack of understanding of the energy sector” then Minister Young
should perhaps embrace such a lack of understanding moving forward since the NGC’s after tax-profit,
between 2011 and 2015, amounted to $20.2 Billion.
There continues to be growing calls for an explanation from the Keith Rowley-led PNM Government with regards to certain decisions of the Board of State-owned National Gas Company.
While NGC has a 10% stake in Trian 1 with Shell, BP and Chinese Investment Corporation 90%, NGC unilaterally decided to fund a 100% cost of keeping Train 1 alive for the duration of 2021 despite Shell and BP advising some ten months ago that since there was no gas to support its Train 1’s continued operation and no business case to support its continuation.
NGC none-the-less has spent approximately US$39 Million in an effort to keep Train 1 “alive.”
In dismissing a call for a forensic audit from the Opposition into NGC, Energy and Energy Industries Minister Stuart Young is quoted as saying, “This is yet another instance where the UNC has displayed a complete lack of understanding of the energy sector… as was their lack of policy in the energy sector in the years 2010-2015.”
If the UNC had displayed a “displayed a complete lack of understanding of the energy sector” then Minister Young should perhaps embrace such a lack of understanding moving forward since the NGC’s after-tax profit, between 2011 and 2015, amounted to $20.2 Billion.
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
From $20.2 Billion after-tax profits, the NGC has reported an after-tax profit of $4.4Billion between 2016 and 2019 and a loss of $2.1 Billion in 2020.
Two years ago, former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine questioned why money was being spent on Train 1 if there was no natural gas to supply it as the plant was idled and put on a maintenance schedule in 2019.
The Government has decided that it will continue to police itself as it has decided that there is no need for an audit of the apparent misappropriation of US$39 Million by the NGC.
The operations of the Enill-led NGC Board continue to be shrouded in secrecy and controversy. The energy sector, politicians and ordinary taxpayers have all questioned the Board’s decisions to spend US$39 Million to keep Train 1 “alive” despite only owning 10% of the Plant.
Aware of this and other risks associated with this US$39 Million expenditure, the Enill-led NGC also asked the Minister of Finance to indemnify it, its subsidiary company NGC LNG and the directors personally which the Government agreed to.
Why would a Board request such an indemnity at the same time it was spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ monies which the Board knew, or ought to have known, was a misconceived and ill-fated attempt to keep the Train 1 operations on stream.
I am tempted to ask who will be held liable for the loss of US$39 Million on this project but I can only reflect upon this Govt’s decision, soon after assuming office in September 2015, to withdraw a multi-million-dollar claim against Petrotrin’s Chairman Malcolm Jones for a failed $3 Billion Gas-to-Liquid Project; a project that moved from being “a bad business decision which meant that due diligence and securing the best interests of the Company were not followed” to one where the political directorate should be called out for being less than honest with the country.