-GEA Board starts investigation
A fuel import company embroiled in questionable shipments from Trinidad and Tobago was
granted its licence by the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) despite not meeting requirements.
However, there is no evidence that the company even owned storage facilities to hold the fuel it said it was bringing in.
It was unclear what criteria GEA used in granting the licence the law– the Petroleum and Petroleum Products Regulations of 2014- is very clear.
The importer would have had to submit, as part of the application, a list of all storage facilities that will be used, including ones that will be shared. The applicant would have had to also give the locations of the storage facilities and details of the type and capacity for the different petroleum products, including of the owner.
However, there are no indications that the Georgetown-based company had any storage capacity for fuel despite bringing in thousands of gallons of diesel overtime, with shipments made as recent as last month.
An “IMPORTING/WHOLESALE LICENCE” was granted to the company on November 11, 2014, and signed by GEA’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mahender Sharma.
The granting of the licence would contradict what GEA said yesterday in statement issued responding to allegations of corruption facing that body.
GEA said contrary to what was stated, there is no record of the grant of any Import/Importing Wholesale Licences that have not satisfied the statutory requirements.
“…Specifically, statement of locations for storage of petroleum and petroleum products contrary to what was stated in the article. As stipulated in the Petroleum and Petroleum Regulations 2014, as enacted under the Guyana Energy Agency Act 1997 (as amended), anyone applying for a wholesale licence or an importing wholesale licence must lodge with the agency, the application, together with any documents or records as may be required by the Regulations.
One such document is a list of all storage facilities including location, capacity and ownership of said facilities.”
Additionally, an Import Licence will inherently include a Storage Licence, premised on the submission of a Petroleum Licence from the Guyana Fire Service, Environmental Permit from the Environmental Protection Agency and right to occupy premises evidenced by documentation from the Central Housing and Planning Authority.
GEA made it clear that it must seek ministerial approval before granting the licence.
“Upon consolidation of information submitted, GEA seeks ministerial approval prior to the grant of ALL fuel Importing/Importing Wholesale Licences, as all imports into the country will impact on national energy security and management of resources to ensure country-wide availability of petroleum and petroleum products on the market.”
GEA said if during the course of operations there is change in the storage facilities, this must be communicated to the GEA, upon which site visits by Inspectors and Licensing Officers are conducted.
“The licensing process is vetted by the GEA in collaboration with sister agencies responsible for issuance of requisite documentation under the regulations.”
The licence granted to the company listed a Bel Air, Georgetown location. A visit to the location by reporters found no fuel storage tanks, but some water tanks.
The same company came under the spotlight after details came out over the weekend that it shipped in fuel on a vessel that came in with fuel for the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil).
GuyOil paid the shipping cost for the fuel that came from Petrotrin, a Trinidad and Tobago company, according to one document dated that showed the vessel coming into Port Georgetown at the beginning of February.
In other words, the company was allowed free shipping.
A source close to GEA indicated that the entity’s new Board of Directors met yesterday with the allegations reported in Kaieteur News over the last few days a major item on the agenda.
According to the source, the board is investigating and highly interested in details of the company and how it received the licence.
Questions were raised about how 8,000 barrels of diesel (gasoil) ended up on a vessel that GuyOil paid for.
It was matter of significant concern for the GEA new board, the source stressed.
Last week, ex-GEA employees and Government officials came out and complained that the agency’s operations should be of deep concern to Guyanese as more than half of the fuel being brought in to the country is being smuggled or brought in under illegal means.
They said that fuel is even being smuggled by fishing boats that comes from Venezuela, and on board of vessels that anchors away from the ports and other known points that would be monitored.
Billions of dollars are being lost each year by the state because of GEA’s mismanagement and a blind-eye to illegal fuel.
Government has been complaining of losing heavily from taxes because of non-compliance and evasion.
At the beginning of the year, the Excise Tax charged on domestic fuel was up to 50 percent.
Consumers have been asking for reduction especially after world prices fell by over 60 percent last year.
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