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Something fishy with our oil and gas money

Published: 
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Is it that we the people of T&T are being short-changed when it comes to how much money we get for our oil and energy? Or, are we being paid what is due?

Well, we may not even know because the caretaker of our oil and gas resources—the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries—doesn’t have a good clue either!

Here is how we are in this mess.

The last Auditor General Report (2016) states that “no evidence was seen that oil and gas production data received from companies and used in the calculation of revenues collectable was verified by the Ministry.”

In other words, our Ministry did not verify what the companies were telling them how much they produced so we can charge them the required fees! So, we could have been undercharging or overcharging them.

One wonders which one?

As a result of this situation, the Auditor General went on to say that “the accuracy of revenue from royalties and share profits from oil companies could not be assessed.” It means, therefore, that the auditors had no way of determining if what we received from the oil companies were in fact what was due to us! Thus, any mark could have played here. In fact, the report added that “the Measurement Unit is constrained.”

More specifically, the auditors added that at the time of the audit, the royalties from 11 oil companies were outstanding. We need to know what action can be taken by the Ministry to get these outstanding monies.

To make matters worse, the auditors noted that “quarterly and annual reconciliations of royalties due and received were not produced for nine out of 11 oil companies.” In other words, the amount of royalties that we ought to receive cannot be verified for almost all of the oil companies in T&T.

Does this shady-looking situation be one of the main reasons that our country seems not to be benefiting from our oil and gas resources? This is our main income generator. Could it really earn us much more money? We will never know.

Further, is it curious that the independent auditors cannot get the information on the monies due to us? Is it even more suspicious as to why our caretaker Ministry cannot have the required systems in place to ensure the country gets its due?

IAN RAMDHANIE