Trinidadian oilfield workers confident of acquiring assets of oil refinery

Monday, February 18, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) says it remains “confident” that it would soon acquire the assets of the former State-owned oil refinery, PETROTRIN, whose operations were closed down by the Government late last year.

OWTU President General, Ancel Roget, told reporters that while there is a non-disclosure agreement which binds the union to confidentiality, it has satisfied all the relevant requirements including international financing, an international management team and international auditors to oversee the purchase.

“We, the OWTU, are confident that we would have satisfied all of the requirements, international financing, international management team, international auditors to ensure that we acquire those assets.

“Remember an offer was made. It has been accepted. I can assure you, in not too long from now, we will be putting out a statement relevant to that situation,” he added.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, told an energy conference here that the operations at the oil refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre, south of here, could resume by the second half of this year.

Rowley said a request for proposals was currently being finalised while “expressions of interest” have been received from about 50 “interested parties”, including the OWTU.

“It is projected that entire process of receiving, evaluating and selection of the successful bidder will be completed by the end of June 2019. This process could see the new holding company making a recommendation to Government by mid-year with this resulting in reopening of refining operations sometime later on, without taxpayer exposure.

“This all depends entirely on what the interested parties propose to the Government in the months ahead,” Rowley added.

PETROTRIN, which shut its operations on November 30, last year sending home thousands of workers, after the Government said it had been losing billions of dollars (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) annually, has been replaced by three new entities, including Heritage Petroleum, which is projecting that crude oil production could be restored to pre-2018 levels at approximately 40,000 barrels daily through an extensive workover programme involving up to 18 work-over rigs on its land assets.

Roget told reporters ahead of a meeting of the Joint Trade Union Movement (TTUM) on Friday that the “OWTU has stepped up to the plate and we have done all the necessary, satisfied all of those requirements, and we are confident that having done that, the only thing that will prevent us from getting that is — nothing.”

But he said that there were still several outstanding issues regarding PETROTRIN, including negotiations and the improper application of severance pay.

Roget told reporters that most of those issues are either “before the court or on its way to the court”.

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