The Ministry of Natural Resources has come out in defence of its decision to hire former Premier of Alberta, Alison Redford amidst concerns that she is not experienced for the task at hand as well as the fact that her past is tainted by fraud scandals.
In a release to the media last evening, the Ministry explained that Redford was hired to review the Payara Field Development Plan, a task that was first undertaken by the UK’s Bayphase Oil and Gas Consultants at a sum of US$386,830. The contract commenced in December 27, 2019. There was a first contract extension at no cost to July 27, 2020, and a second contract extension to September 27, 2020, with a revised contract sum of US$429,382 which represents an 11 percent increase.
The Ministry said that the Bayphase Oil and Gas Review will also be re-examined by Redford, a Queen’s Counsel. The Ministry said that she would not be acting alone as she would be leading a team which includes the former Deputy Minister of Energy in Newfoundland, Canada; senior international reservoir engineers; and Mr. Jay Park, Q.C, Managing Partner of Park Energy Law based in Canada and the United Kingdom. Ms. Redford has also worked with other groups around the world to conduct “similar reviews” in nature.
Further to this, the Ministry noted that Redford has served as a World Bank Advisor on Gas Sector Reform in Pakistan and Afghanistan and in other jurisdictions, as they develop new approaches to upstream regulation, transparency, and accountability inclusive of community engagement. As Premier of Alberta, the Ministry said that Redford introduced the Responsible Energy Development Act which created the Alberta Energy Regulator. The Act sets out rigorous regulation, compliance, and enforcement provisions on all aspects of oil and gas production, including permits and licenses. The Ministry also spoke glowingly about Redford’s legal achievements and capabilities.
While the foregoing may be all well and good, transparency advocates such as Former Presidential Advisor and Petroleum Consultant, Dr. Jan Mangal, is of the firm conviction that Redford has no experience in reviewing the technical aspects of a field development plan and should, therefore, be no part of the project. In one of his most recent Facebook posts, Dr. Mangal stressed that Redford had spent most of her life in the political realm as opposed to examining field development plans for the benefit of governments across the world.
He also flagged her tenure as Premier for Alberta where she was forced to resign after it was found that she was inappropriately using public money. A review by Alberta’s Auditor General, Merwan Saher found, among other things that “false passengers” were booked on at least a dozen government flights, making it possible for then Premier to fly alone with her entourage.
“They (Redford and her team at the time) consistently failed to demonstrate in the documents we examined that their travel expenses were necessary and a reasonable and appropriate use of public resources,” Saher wrote.
The Auditor-General also wrote that Redford had used public assets (aircraft) for personal and partisan purposes. She was also involved in a plan to convert public space in a public building into personal living space. “How could this have happened? The answer is that the aura of power around (former) Premier Redford and her office should not be questioned,” the Auditor General wrote in his report.