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Stabroek News

Four bidders for Nigeria oil contract - Contractor General still probing Trafigura award
published: Wednesday | May 2, 2007


Ruth Potopsingh, group managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), says the PCJ board will have to sign off on the evaluations committee. - File

Lavern Clarke, Business Editor

Four oil traders have tendered for the lift and trading contract for the crude Jamaica buys from Nigeria, but evualations of the bids will take another month, according to the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ).

Bids from Glencore Energy UK Limited, whose parent already owns bauxite assets here (Windalco and Kirkvine) BP Oil International, Shell Western Supply and Trading Limited and Trafigura Beheer BV (the company that had the contract since 2000) were opened Monday but are be evaluated by a specially-constituted committee.

Dr Ruth Potopsingh, PCJ group managing director, told Wednesday Business that she has put together a list of names for the evaluation committee, but refused to disclose them, saying the PCJ board was yet to approve it.

Potopsingh is among the nominated members, as well as representatives from the energy company's technical officer corps, the board, its external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers and board of directors, as well as the Office of the Contractor- eneral.

"The Contractor General's office will be an observer on the committee," the PCJ boss said on Tuesday.

The Nigerian oil contract, prior to now, was rolled over annually after negotiations between PCJ and the London office of the Dutch company.

Investigation on-going

In October, Contractor General Greg Christie announced that he would be investigating the "circumstances of the contract award" after a non-related arrangement involving payment of approximately $31 million to a then minister of government, Collin Campbell, from Trafigura was made public.

"The investigation is ongoing," said Claudia Williams, communications officer.

Christie at the launch of the probe had presented industry, Technology and Energy minister, Phillip Paulwell, with a 16-point list of information and documentation required on the contract and how it was tendered, but Williams would not say whether the ministry had been forthcoming with the information, saying it would contravene the OCG's policy of not commenting on ongoing investi-gations.

Earnings

Jamaica earned US12.5 cents per barrel of oil lifted by Trafigura after December 2004 when the contract terms were renegotiated from a profit sharing arrangement.

In the prior four years, the profit share arrangement earned Jamaica approximately US8 cents per barrel lifted.

In the near six years of the Trafigura contract, the oil trader lifted and traded more than 34 million barrels of crude from Nigeria on Jamaica's behalf.

lavern.clarke@gleanerjm.com

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