14 August 2006

A quickie rejoinder to Ron Penney

So Ron Penney thinks Andy Wells - Ron's boss - is qualified to head the offshore regulatory board.

Then he says two things that are odd, if not contradictory. First he says that all the heads of the board to date haven't had a background in regulatory agencies - or for that matter oil and gas. Therefore, the chairman doesn't need to have an oil and gas background, or indeed any knowledge of the industry at all.

Second, Penney says there's a need to make a change in the board's leadership because the board hasn't been doing a good job, led as it has been, by guys who don't know the industry.


Well, the stated qualifications - agreed to by Danny Williams from the outset - called for a change in direction for the board's leadership by specifying that the new chairman and chief executive officer would need extensive knowledge of the oil and gas industry, as well as technical knowledge given that the board is a technical regulatory body.

So the critieria used to judge Andy's candidacy already reflect Ron's supposed desire for change.

Here's the specific set of criteria since Ron clearly hadn't read them before he made his comments:

Candidates will have an in-depth knowledge of Newfoundland and Labrador'’s offshore oil and gas activities, along with a demonstrated ability to manage an organization with diverse technical and regulatory responsibilities, and to work effectively with senior industry and government officials. Qualified individuals will also have a good understanding of the structure and operation of the Canadian and international petroleum industry. Applicants will have extensive experience in the operational aspects of offshore petroleum activities, including full knowledge of related business, financial, safety and environmental matters, and of federal and provincial government legislation and operations. In addition, candidates will have experience in dealing with industry associations and a wide range of non-government organizations. This position requires exceptional communication skills.

On that basis, Wells is not qualified for the job.

Now, that's not just my opinion.

It's not just the opinion of Mr. Justice Halley.

Danny Williams said it when he signed off on the qualifications listed above long before he decided Andy Wells was the guy for the job.

Danny Williams said he when he endorsed these or similar criteria to be used by the binding arbitration panel.

Using Danny Williams' own criteria, the arbitration panel decided Andy Wells isn't qualified for the job: Max Ruelokke is.

For a guy who supposedly played a key role negotiating the Atlantic Accord (195) - the real Accord - Penney doesn't seem to know the document very well. Penney told the Telegram the board needs a shakeup because it hasn't done a good job of delivering benefits to the province.

As Ron knows - or ought to know - that is not the offshore board's job.

It never was. Not even when Ron was inking the deal in 1985.

The job of setting and delivering benefits to the province rests with people like Danny Williams, on whose behalf Ron was obviously speaking.

On that basis, and given the internal contradictions in his comments, Ron Penney is wrong both on the background to the offshore board and on Andy Wells.

After all, Ron's "rationale" was almost exactly the same one Danny's been offering, contradictions, serious factual errors and all.

Just like Danny.

Right down to the self-massage.