Opposition sharpens its knives over politician’s silence.
The Opposition requests the presence of Minister Terje Riis-Johansen at the second sitting of its Mongstad grill party in Parliament at 2 p.m. on Tuesday 01st June, 2010. Attire: Flack-jacket and tie.
Labour (Ap) Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s so-called Mongstad moon landing (månelanding) has become an expensive and tricky political obelisk that hasn’t even left the launch-pad.
Since 2005 the gas power plant’s carbon capture and storage project has brought down one government, been pushed back – first indefinitely, secondly by two years from 2012 to 2014, and then by a further four – and seen one prime minister put firmly on the spot.
It has also caught one minister with his mouth shut. Last year, both Statoil and Gassnova – the state company responsible for planning and building the purification plant – informed Centre Party (Sp) Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Riis-Johansen the project would be delayed and face a cost overrun.
Though the Minister did admit in February that the deadline looked unrealistic, he didn’t inform Parliament about the delay until last month.
Under today’s two-hour Parliamentary hearing, Riis-Johansen will be questioned by the Opposition as to why.
In an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue, representatives from Statoil, and company representatives and researchers with expertise in the field of CO2 purification will also face questions, as will Gassnova director Bjørn-Erik Haugan.
Riis-Johansen has blamed Gassnova for the hold-up.
“It’s quite interesting that one gets criticised for trying to keep to target, after having received so much censure for not doing so in the past,” he told NRK last month.
Meanwhile, Dagfinn Høybråthen, leader of the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) tells Bergens Tidende he believes important and relevant information has been withheld.
“Parliament’s job now is to confront the government with this information. We need to clarify in detail when the minister responsible was told about the disparity in the schedule, and what was done about it. It makes it an extremely serious Parliamentary issue if what happened is true,” he says.
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