Gordon McIntosh out as fledgling Crown oil corporation severs ties with highly paid consultant
Contract stirred controversy last year after the revelation it was awarded without competition
Newfoundland and Labrador's newly formed oil corporation has ended a lucrative and controversial consulting contract with Scotland-based Gordon McIntosh, CBC News has learned.
And that has the PC Opposition questioning why the deal was ever signed in the first place.
The Crown agency, which was recently separated from Nalcor Energy, confirmed in a written statement that McIntosh's company, Aberdeen International Associates (AIA), will end its work for OilCo on Friday.
"Gordon is in the process of [concluding] his contract with us," an OilCo spokesperson wrote.
The statement, attributed to Nalcor's executive vice-president for offshore development Jim Keating, says the decision was made as part of the 2020 budget process.
"In light of the transition into a new company and the experience with one year of activity under Advance 2030 mandate, we've taken steps to amend, reduce, or terminate some of OilCo's contracts in response to current and future business needs."
CBC has asked for a list of other contracts affected by the review, and OilCo said there is "no penalty or severance" owed to McIntosh.
The contract with McIntosh was for a maximum of two years, and OilCo decided to exercise its right to end the contract after one year, with a 30-day notice given on March 24.
OilCo said it's common to review its contract needs, and said those details are not shared publicly due to the commercial nature of the contracts.
PC Opposition Leader Ches Crosbie issued a statement Thursday afternoon, saying the early termination of the McIntosh contract calls into question whether it was necessary.
"Under the cover of a pandemic, the government has ditched a consultant whose work they told us they really needed," Crosbie said.
Crosbie said McIntosh has "close Liberal ties" and said his hiring, which included a $3,000 monthly housing allowance, and that the Liberals were "vigorously defending [it] just weeks ago."
Meanwhile, the work assigned to AIA to help advance the province's oil and gas growth strategy known as Advance 2030 will either be carried on by OilCo staff or "absorbed by government," says OilCo.
A controversial contract
McIntosh is a former deputy minister with the Department of Natural Resources, and played a role in developing Advance 2030, which was unveiled more than two years ago with the goal of building the oil and gas sector.
McIntosh became a source of controversy last year after it was learned his company, based in Scotland, was awarded a $337,000 consulting contract without competition. McIntosh earned less than $200,000 as deputy minister.
It was later learned that the decision to hire AIA was made after a Nalcor executive and a top aide to Premier Dwight Ball "mutually agreed" that McIntosh was the best candidate to help OilCo make the transition into a standalone company.
Opposition MHAs claimed the sole source contract was a violation of conflict of interest rules, but Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady defended the oil company's decision, saying Nalcor "does budget its own consultation … and this is within that budget."
CBC requested an interview with OilCo boss Jim Keating, but a spokesperson said, "We don't have anything further to add."