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.”