(Trinidad Express) Government’s trumpeted announcement of an oil find is a hoax “in the identical vein” to the assassination plot announced by the Prime Minister last November, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday.
Backing up his claim was 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”.
Both MPs were speaking at a news conference at the Opposition Leader’s Port of Spain office, when they slammed the Government for taking the population up a “gum tree” with this “propaganda” of a “massive oil discovery”.
Rowley said the discovery was not new since Petrotrin in 2007 had commissioned a study on the area of the find by Vetra Consultants. In 2011, four appraisal wells were drilled, three confirmed the presence of the reservoir and one was dry, he said. He stressed however that a detailed development plan now had to be done to determine the reserves and their commercial viability.
Rowley said the Prime Minister was driven by political considerations to make the announcement.
“On the day and very time when this announcement (of the oil find) 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 with the COP….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.
Rowley said in the process, 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. 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…
“Up comes the Prime Minister and in the identical vein to the assassination hoax, taking advice from the highly paid public relations handlers, believe that the population could be manipulated away from looking at the political negatives that attend their actions, and if they feed us horse manure we would be completely satisfied and say ‘all is well in Trinidad and Tobago’.
He said it was the same behaviour the Prime Minister displayed when she announced with “great fanfare and indignation” that she was under threat of assassination and the army was mobilised to divert attention away from the ending of a sad State of Emergency.
Imbert 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 “20 times the size of this alleged discovery”.
Imbert said 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:
a) the quantity of the oil has not been proven
b) the commercial viability of the discovery has not yet been established, and
c)they are not sure about the mix of oil.
Imbert said it could cost Petrotrin as much as TT$75 a barrel to produce this oil. He said if the price it got was TT$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.
He said BHP Billiton had estimated it would get 75,000 barrels a day from its find, but eventually ended up getting 40,766 barrels a day in 2005 which has since dropped to 13,609 barrels a day in 2012, “because the way oil behaves, one initially gets a high flow which drops off very rapidly. That is the cycle of oil production all over the world”, Imbert said.
“So (an original estimate of) one billion barrels of oil (eventually) produced 40,000 barrels a day. If that field is 20 times the size of this alleged (new) jubilee field…you are looking at possibly 2,500 barrels of oil a day…which would very rapidly drop off to 700 barrels a day within five years. Seven hundred barrels of oil worth maybe $80, for which you might make $10 profit per barrel, if you are lucky,…that works out to $15 million a year. They (the Government) would start off earning maybe TT$75 million a year and within five years it would be down to TT$15 million. I hope you now realise how ridiculous all of this (fuss being made by the Government ) is”, he said.
Imbert said two weeks ago, the Prime Minister referred to the Bayfield oil find as the source of funding for Government’s road development, in order to pour water over protests all over the country about roads. He said Bayfield has since revealed that it would take five years to develop the oil field and therefore Government would be getting no revenue before this period.
Now that the People’s Partnership was disintegrating, he said the announcement of the jubilee field was being used to deal with that problem. “It is a mamaguy,” he said.
Rowley said the Prime Minister once again has chosen to be the bearer of questionable information where matters of integrity, truth and competence feature prominently. He called on the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to give data and details on this alleged massive oil find.
He also called on the Chairman of Petrotrin, Lindsay Gillette, to stop misleading the population , adding that the professionals in the Ministry of Energy were now at risk of being “bludgeoned” by the politicians into telling lies.