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Tuesday, October 17 2017 @ 01:06 PM AST

Nothing done to collect $796m from Niko

At a time when Government is borrowing to pay for its recurrent expenditure, Canadian oil and gas explorer Niko Resources Ltd said in a February 14 statement Trinidad and Tobago made no move to collect US$118 million owed to it for unfulfilled commitments and production sharing contract (PSC) obligations.

Niko said in statement: "The company's exploration subsidiaries that currently own or previously owned interests in PSCs in Trinidad and Indonesia have significant accounts payable and accrued liabilities (including PSC obligations) and unfulfilled exploration work commitments reflected on the company's balance sheet as at December 31, 2016, with the unfulfilled commitments and PSC obligations in Trinidad backed by parent company guarantees.

"In August 2016, three of the company's indirect subsidiaries received written notice from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) requesting that unfulfilled exploration work commitments be performed under each of the subsidiaries' respective PSCs within 60 days, failing which the GORTT would terminate the PSCs and exercise its rights on the parent company guarantees for unfulfilled exploration commitments of US$118 million.

"The GORTT has not taken any further steps in this regard. The company is considering various options to address this matter."

When news of the debt was first reported in July 2016, the US$118 million was worth $858 million. With depreciation of the TT dollar since then, it is now worth $796 million.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert (at right) has been acting as Energy Minister since substantive Energy Minister Franklin Khan contracted a viral infection that affected his heart condition while on holiday in Thailand in December 2016. Khan was appointed energy minister after the portfolio was taken away from Member of Parliament for La Brea Nicole Olivierre in an October 2016 Cabinet re-shuffle.

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