[UPDATED] Moonilal claims secret company formed for Dragon deal

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal. –

OROPOUCHE East Dr Roodal Moonilal claimed that a company has been formed secretly to help Government execute the Dragon gas deal with Venezuela.

He made the claim at a news conference at the UNC’s headquarters in Chaguanas on Sunday.

“They (Government) have been caught with their proverbial pants down on the Dragon field matter and it is an ugly sight indeed.”

Last December, TT secured a 30-year licence to develop the Dragon field in Venezuela’s territorial waters.

Moonilal quoted from a copy of the Venezuelan government’s gazette, dated January 29, to support his argument.

“When the day comes, when we depend on Venezuela for accountability and transparency, we reach. Our democracy itself has collapsed. Our public institutions have collapsed when we depend on Venezuela for accountability.”

He reminded the media that Venezuela is facing the renewal of some sanctions against by the US because its supreme court upheld a ban on opposition candidate Maria Machado contesting presidential elections scheduled for this year.

“This is a country that does that, but now we have to depend on them for accountability.”

Referring to the gazette, Moonilal said the Dragon gas deal is published there.

He scoffed at previous statements by the Prime Minister and Energy Minister Stuart Young that details of the deal could not be made public.

Moonilal said, “I have in my hand this document of about 35 pages, which is the deal. This is the Dragon deal which Keith Rowley and Stuart Young refuse to tell the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

He added, “Well in Caracas, you need to find out what happening in Maracas.”

The summary of the gazette lists NGC (National Gas Company) Exploration and Production Ltd (NGCE&PL) and Shell Venezuela SA are the companies involved in the 30-year licence to explore and exploit the hydrocarbon resources in the Dragon field.

Moonilal said NGCE&PL is a company “duly incorporated under the laws of TT and registered in Point Lisas.”

He added, “No one in TT knows of a company named NGCE&PL.”

NGC, he continued, is a company involved in the distribution, marketing and selling of natural gas.

Moonilal said, “NGC is not a production and exploration company.”

He asked where NGCE&PL came from.

Moonilal claimed Government was keeping this company a secret.

Outgoing NGC president Mark Loquan. Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal says Loquan is one of the director of the NGC Exploration and Production Ltd (NGCE&PL), which Moonilal says was set up facilitate the Dragon gas deal with Venezuela. –

“Why must we ask Venezuela for their gazette (to find this out)? Why? Why the dishonesty?”

Moonilal said, “Today, we are told of a ghost company. It may not be a ghost but we’ve never heard about it called the NGCE&PL.”

Checks by the UNC of the companies’ registrar, he continued, showed this company was incorporated on November 9, 2023.

Its directors are outgoing NGC president Mark Loquan and Joseph Khan. Loquan will demit office in August.

The company’s address is Orinoco Drive, Pt Lisas Industrial Estate, Couva.

NGC has the same address.

Moonilal claimed Government “is going about in secret registering companies that the Venezuelans tell us about.”

He asked why the Government hid this.

Moonilal said Article 20 of the agreement states that should oil or natural gas be discovered in Dragon, “before anything is done, there is a condition for the payment of a bonus (to the Venezuelan government.”

He added this bonus must be paid in US currency.

“We are being told that the bonus, called a signature fee, is US$65 million.”

Moonilal claimed no natural gas could be exported from Dragon to TT unless this bonus was paid.

“Where is that coming from?”

Moonilal reminded the media that last month in the Senate, its vice-president Nigel De Freitas had to break a 15-15 tie in the Government’s favour in a vote on a private motion that asked for details about the Dragon deal.

On that occasion, the nine Independent senators voted with the Opposition’s six in support of the motion filed by Opposition Senator Wade Mark.

He said Young was the only government speaker in that debate and never raised the matters he did.

Earlier in the briefing, Oropouche West MP Davendranath Tancoo dismissed a statement by Dr Rowley at a news conference on February 2 that the UNC was claiming the cost to build the pipeline from Dragon to the Hibiscus platform was US$100 million.

Tancoo claimed that Young quoted that figure after a meeting with Venezuelan government officials in Caracas last year.

Moonilal also claimed that the Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott) is mismanaging the construction of the new Central Block at the Port of Spain General Hospital.

He said the Brian Lara Stadium cannot host a cricket test match and has been turned into “the academy of wining.”

Moonilal called on Udecott to say whether or not they have given $1 billion worth of contracts to a company “that has a direct link to a cabinet minister.”

This company, he continued, is involved in several works throughout TT.

Moonilal claimed, “Do you know Udecott is building pavements today? There is a project on Ariapita Avenue to build pavements and box drains. Udecott doing that too.”

He said, “There is a scandal in Udecott. I call for full disclosure on that Ariapita refurbishment programme.”

Moonilal added there were other companies, not Udecott, that could build pavements and box drains.

“But what happens is they want to socialise their thiefing. That is what they are doing. They are privatising their profits and socialising their thiefing.”

Moonilal claimed this is happening because of next year’s general election.

“This is the last year of their government. They know it. So what is happening in this last year is that they’re borrowing money to thief.”

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal claimed that a company has been formed secretly to help Government execute the Dragon gas deal with Venezuela.

He made the claim at a news conference at the UNC’s headquarters in Chaguanas on Sunday.

Moonilal said the company NGC Exploration was identified in the Venezuelan government’s gazette dated January 29.

He added that the existence of this company was never mentioned at any time by the Government.

Moonilal also claimed that the gazette suggests that a bonus payment in US dollars must be paid to the Venezuelan government once any oil or natural gas is discovered and before it is sent to Trinidad and Tobago.