26 February 2008

No access restriction: offshore board

The board regulating the province's offshore oil and gas industry hasn't restricted access to its financial records or other operational records.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board issued a statement late Tuesday which contradicted claims made earlier in the day by provincial auditor general John Noseworthy:

As a public agency, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board has no objection to an audit and does not wish to restrict access. Our point is simply that, since the Board is a federal/provincial agency, any audit should be conducted jointly by the Auditors General of the Province and the Government of Canada.” It was also noted in the same letter that the Board is audited every year by an external auditor, and the results of that audit are in the public domain as part of our Annual Report. These Annual Reports are tabled in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Parliament of Canada and are available on the Board’s website at www.cnlopb.nl.ca.

Noseworthy told news media today he wasn't interested as much in the board's financial operations but in the board's responsibilities to the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for safety, industrial benefits and other areas.  His office has no in-house competence to review these areas. Noseworthy did not indicate how he proposed to evaluate areas beyond his professional competence as an accountant.

In his statements today, Noseworthy neglected to point out that his office has actually never considered the offshore board as an entity subject to audit by his office.

Noseworthy gave no explanation for his sudden change of opinion nor for his inexplicable interest in assessing issues beyond his professional competence.

Noseworthy apparently made no effort to contact federal auditor general Sheila Fraser, dismissing it as unnecessary. 

Instead, he filed a report making claims that are not substantiated by even a cursory examination of the facts of the matter.