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Rowley: Govt timing a PR gimmick

Oil find good news, but...

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

WHILE lauding State-owned Petrotrin's recent oil find, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has questioned the timing of the announcement.

During Thursday's post-Cabinet news conference, Petrotrin's president-designate Khalid Hassanali said the company, which was engaged in aggressive drilling, discovered the oil off the Gulf of Paria, four miles west of Point Fortin, in 60 feet of water.

The announcement of the oil find coincided with a critical meeting with the five leaders of the People's Partnership coalition over threats by two partners, the Congress of the People (COP) and the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), to walk away. The oil was discovered last year, according to Petrotrin.

Speaking to members of the media following the opening of the St Barbara's Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School in Maloney, Rowley said:

"At this stage, any oil find is good news for the country. Any increase in the oil reserves is good, but we take note of the fact that it was presented as part of the PR (public relations) propaganda and a fair amount of misinformation."

Rowley said oil finds are not new to this country but chided the People's Partnership administration for turning the discovery into a public relations gimmick.

"We are not fazed by that (the timing of the announcement), but we understand it for what it was; Soldado field is not a new field; making finds is not new in Trinidad and Tobago," Rowley said.

"We have had the North Coast find, we have had the East Coast find, we have had the Amoco find, but we have never had a government convert it into major politics like that," he said.

Rowley said a better analysis of the oil find is necessary before he could comment fully.

"We have been accustomed over the years to have had finds, and the numbers as mentioned and how it has been presented, we need to have a better analysis. We are not sure yet if those are usable reserves, and we also not sure of the rate of draw down as mentioned in the news," he said.

"I will wait until the technical people give us the full technical details," he said.

• See Page 7

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