Employers’ Council backs businessman’s complaint

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Government says Puddister Trading had ‘full and fair opportunity’ for Hebron contract

A St. John’s businessman who says Newfoundland and Labrador-owned companies aren’t getting a fair crack at oil and gas contracts now has the backing of a provincial employers’ association.

“Businesses have been talking about this oil and gas first starting being a major player in our economy,” said Richard Alexander, director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, on Thursday, after sending a letter to Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley outlining the council’s concerns.

Gerry Puddister, fleet manager and shareholder of Puddister Trading Co. went public last week with his frustration over an unsuccessful bid for a contract for personnel transportation for the Hebron project.

Puddister claimed the provincial oil regulator isn’t doing enough to ensure a level playing field between companies from Newfoundland and Labrador and outside companies, and the Business Association of Newfoundland and Labrador took up his cause, calling on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) to enact tougher regulations.

Puddister said Thursday he’s glad to have the council’s support.

“Any company … they should have to exhaust every avenue to partner with a Newfoundland Labrador company,” he said.

Alexander said that Puddister’s complaint echoes similar stories that have been discussed in the business community for years.  

“Even a perception that the benefits agreements are not being honoured to their fullest extent is a concern,” wrote Alexander in the letter to Dalley. “We ask that your department investigate any complaints you receive related to Newfoundland and Labrador companies losing out on opportunities or contracts in our oil and gas industry.”

A request for an interview with Dalley was declined Thursday, but a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources department provided a written statement on behalf of the minister that said the board has investigated Puddister’s complaint.

“We are aware of the issue and officials with the Department of Natural Resources have been in contact with the C-NLOPB,” wrote Tina Williams, the communications manager for the department.

“The CNLOPB has investigated the matter and determined that the requirement of full and fair opportunity was provided to Puddister Shipping.”

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Newfoundland and Labrador Employers, Puddister Trading Co. Business Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Hebron, Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Samuel J.
    August 08, 2014 - 06:31

    This article is confusing. The headline and content both allude to support for Puddister Trading from the Newfoundland and Labrador Employer's Council but the fifth paragraph instead refers to the Business Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. Would have expected it from the smaller business association but a bit surprised it came from the Employer's Council - not disappointed, just surprised. Question is - where is NOIA, the organization that is supposed to be looking out for local participation. This kind of contract - for which there is significant capability within the province - should have been restricted to local bidding. The public is generally not aware of something the local business community has known for a long time - that is, the CNLOPB is really not into local content. Nor for the most part is government. They go through the motions but do very little to ensure the operators live up even to their commitments. Incidentally, the other business organization that has been co-opted by the interests of large corporations is the St. John's Board of Trade - it survives by providing a soap box for corporate execs from out of province and government ministers. The little guys - the local start-up types who want to be in tight with business and government - dutifully flock to the hotels once a month to listen to the crap being churned out at the podium and eat the crap slapped down on the table. Makes them feel good for an hour to hob-nob with elite, but like the rubber chicken it tends to stick in their craw a while.