Finally, An Investigation Panel For The Sterling Affair

Tradus de Andrei Năstase
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 17 aprilie 2009

Results will be unveiled in two months

Cristina MihalaŞcu

The Lower Chamber of Parliament yesterday cast 172 pros, 4 cons and 6 abstentions on a motion to appoint a panel to investigate the Sterling Case. The motion also carried last week, but, after the votes were counted, it was established that the result was null because of lack of quorum. The motion was filed by the Industry & Services Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, who intends to find out whether State interests were damaged by the changes made to the oil agreement signed by Sterling for a perimeter in the Black Sea.

The main purpose of the investigation is to establish whether the addendum to the exploitation and production sharing contract between Sterling and the National Mineral Resources Agency (ANRM) is legal. The addendum was signed in the Autumn of 2008. The investigation will also establish whether it is necessary to change the legal provisions on the negotiation of an effective oil agreement, the manner in which the State controls public underground resources - especially mineral and oil resources - as well as the economic and environmental impact of the aforementioned contract.

The investigation panel will verify the arguments presented to substantiate the need for the Emergency Ordinance of the Government, which made fundamental changes to Mining Law 85/2003 and Oil Law 238/2004. Another objective of the panel is to verify the oil agreements and the concessions modified or endorsed based on the provisions of Emergency Ordinance of the Government no. 101/2007. The Members of the Industry & Services Committee plan to have the report submitted on 29 June 2009. The investigation panel will comprise all the Members of the Industry & Services Committee.

ANRM President Gelu Maracineanu stated that, when Sterling signed the contract with the Agency in August 2008, the company was not licensed to perform oil-related operations and did not have an environmental permit to make the investments stated in the contract. He claims that Sterling has not proven to have the financial, material and human resources appropriate for the exploration and exploitation of the Black Sea concessions.

PNL MP Diana Tusa, a Member of the Industry & Services Committee, stated: "The Boc Government and ANRM made overnight, secretive changes to the calculation formula for mining royalties and passed a new version of Emergency Ordinance 101/2007 during a Government meeting held on 8 April. The only changes that were made concern mining royalties. Oil operations and gas storage remained unaffected. This confirms the theory that the only real reason for this move was the mining royalties and not the changes made by the Tariceanu Government to the Oil Law, which allegedly facilitated the conclusion of the Sterling contract." She claims that the changes made to the royalties formula are detrimental to the State.

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