Vol. 5 Num 373 Wed. June 15, 2005  
Front Page

Niko gifts minister luxurious car

Niko Resources, a Canadian oil company widely blamed for Tengratila gasfield disaster, has presented the State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain with a car worth about Tk 1 crore.

Niko, which is engaged in gas and oil exploration in Bangladesh, has given the state minister a Toyota Land Cruiser Cygnus 2005 model car through Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex), a sister firm of state-run Petrobangla, said sources.

Niko President Brian J Adolph on May 16 sent an official letter to the managing director of the Bapex mentioning that Niko had already sent the car to the state minister's office. The luxurious car was formally received at Mosharraf's residence on May 23.

The letter reads, "With reference to the above mentioned subject and your letter dated 09/05/05 Ref No, please be advised that we have already handed over the said vehicle to the offices of the Hon'ble State Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources Division along with the original documents."

While receiving the car in written on behalf of the state minister, a Bapex official mentioned in the Niko file, "We have received the car and mentioned things in presence of the honourable state minister at his residence." Besides the car, the other things received were a temporary blue book of the car, fitness certificate, original insurance certificate, toolbox, a spare wheel, an alternative key, and an operator's manual.

SR Osmani, chairman of Petrobangla, has sent a letter to the state minister requesting him to use the vehicle (Gha-11-6213). An official order issued by the Pertobangla on May 12 said Abdul Bari, an employee of Titas Gas Transmission Company, would work as the driver of the vehicle.

Since the gasfield disaster in Tengratila, three separate committees have been formed to assess the damage to the environment, gas reserves, and properties of the locals. But the complete assessment of the losses caused by the blowout has yet to be completed.

AKM Mosharraf Hossain had left Dhaka on June 5 to attend a three-day gas and oil exposition in Alberta of Canada at the invitation of the economic minister of the state. He may have talks with the higher authorities of Niko and energy ministry of the state on Tengratila gasfield disaster, said sources.

Meanwhile, in a clarification of the car issue, the energy and mineral resources ministry on Monday denied that the state minister has received any gift from the Canadian oil company.

As the minister was not provided any car by the Government Transport Pool, he has been using a Nissan Patrol Jeep (Dhaka Metro-Gha-11-0409) belonging to Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL), said the statement signed by the senior information officer of the ministry.

"Recently, the vehicle was repaired for mechanical faults and was sent back to GTCL. The state minister now is using a Toyota Cruiser Jeep (Gha-11-6213) that belongs to Bapex. Therefore, the Bapex-car is simply a replacement of the GTCL-car used by the state minister earlier. It has nothing to do with the evasion of the payment for Tengratila explosion damage," the clarification read.

It also said that in accordance with the government rule, the transport pool had requested the minister to use a vehicle from any organisation/corporation under his ministry.