The appointment of Aberdeen International Associates (co-directed by the former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of Newfoundland, Gordon McIntosh and his son, Neil) has prompted considerable discussion in the local media in recent days.
My letter today adds to these discussions.
Statements from Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady tell us that McIntosh’s firm will be retained by Nalco Energy - Oil and Gas to “support the development of strategic Initiatives as part of the Way Forward on Oil and Gas” and “to lead efforts to further an MOU between the Government of Newfoundland and Guyana” signed in October 2018.
I wish to make the following observations on this story.
Firstly, I see no need for an Aberdeen-based firm to be hired to assist the very capable staff at Nalcor Engery Oil and Gas to attract new entrants into the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore.
When one reviews the amounts being bid on exploration parcels in recent years, it is obvious that Nalcor Oil and Gas has been doing an outstanding job.
My question is why do we need to pay a company which includes a former deputy minister $336,000 plus expenses to supplement these efforts? To add salt to the wound, despite there being no need for this contract at all, it was awarded without any competition. One is reminded of the expression If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I see no need for an Aberdeen-based firm to be hired to assist the very capable staff at Nalcor Engery Oil and Gas to attract new entrants into the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore.
Secondly, I am appalled that McIntosh’s firm would be retained by the N.L. government to lead efforts to further an MOU with an exciting and emerging industry such as Guyana. There are many in Newfoundland who have many years’ experience in the oil and gas industry and are currently seeking opportunities on their own in Guyana.
So far, this government-to-government MOU has failed to live up to its commitment to “develop and approve an annual work plan within 30 days of the signing of the MOU which occurred in October 2018.” I would challenge the minister to provide the public with a copy of the workplan which is long overdue.
A recent example of the failure of this MOU to produce meaningful results is evidenced in a March 20 news release in “OilNow Guyana” which states that a group of “24 Guyanese trainees will soon depart for 18 months of training at Cape Breton University.”
After 40 years of producing oil in Newfoundland and Labrador, do we not have educational facilities to accommodate this training requirement? A blatant example of Newfoundland being outhustled by our sister province.
A consulting firm based in Aberdeen will do little to enhance the training and business opportunities between our province and Guyana.
Perhaps money would be better invested by having local firms and institutions directly negotiate on the ground in Guyana.
Perhaps government and Nalcor will rethink their strategy.