(Trinidad Guardian) In the first step of an effort to cut jobs, Spanish energy firm Repsol E&P T&T Ltd yesterday offered 190 employees Voluntary Separation of Employment (VSEP) packages.
The company did so in an email to the employees, of which the T&T Guardian received a copy.
In the email, the company said from 2014 to present, it had embarked on many optimisation initiatives to make its Business Unit viable.
“In the third quarter of 2015, we communicated to our employees the problems our company has been facing due to the collapse in oil prices since July 2014. As we all know, we have tried to innovatively find ways to become more efficient.
“As we continue to review our organisational needs, Repsol would like to launch a Voluntary Separation Programme commencing April 18, 2015 until 5 pm on April 25, 2016,” the email read.
It said the offer was applicable to permanent employees, with the exception of: employees belonging to the Bargaining Unit #3; individuals who have submitted formal notice of retirement or who have tendered their resignation before April 15, 2016; non-nationals on assignment in Trinidad and T&T nationals on foreign assignments.
The offer, according to the email, was intended to allow the employees interested in leaving the company this year a chance to express that interest. It added that there would be no deferred VSEP packages as it was a one-time offer.
The VSEP process was said to be confidential and applications will only be reviewed by those required to make staffing decisions.
However, employees were told while their preferences would be considered, there was no guarantee their VSEP request would be accepted as all decisions would be based on organisational needs.
But the move comes even as Repsol prepares to sign a lease arrangement with the National Gas Company Ltd today for its offshore platforms in the Teak and Poui fields.
The VSEP offer thus left Repsol workers, especially the T&T nationals, dazed and confused yesterday.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday under anonymity, an employee questioned the motive behind the VSEP plan.
“Yes, we understand it’s an offer and if you don’t apply it means that you want to continue working with the company but is it that the company wants to demotivate us or are interested in hiring cheaper labour? All these things we are studying. This came as a shock to us, like a thief in the night.”
On another pending issue, the T&T Guardian has been reliably informed that the signing of the lease agreement between Repsol and the National Gas Company (NGC) for two of the latter’s platforms is scheduled to take place today.
Contacted on the deal yesterday, Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre confirmed that the deal, which was initially intended to be a sale agreement, had been change to a lease agreement. However, she said she would most likely miss the signing as she was out of the country and scheduled to return this evening.
Asked how the move by both companies would affect employees, Olivierre replied: “I know that NGC has made plans for its employees to be redeployed in different areas and some will be re-trained. However, I do not know who Repsol will have on the platform.”
Asked if she had heard rumours that Repsol planned to hire its own workers to operate the platforms at month’s end, Olivierre replied: “I don’t know about Spanish workers. I would not know what Repsol’s intentions are.”
The T&T Guardian understands that a meeting was held late last week with Repsol and NGC officials.
Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, this time with NGC’s offshore workers. It is expected that NGC employees will be briefed on their futures with the company (NGC) then.
Efforts to reach NGC chairman Gerry Brooks and Repsol’s business adviser and assets manager, Allan Russell, for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.
Questions were sent to Repsol’s corporate communications manager, Heidi Diquez, regarding the VSEP offer, the signing of the lease agreement with NGC and whether or not Repsol will be hiring its own workers for the platforms they will be leasing from NGC. However, up to press time there was no response.
The same questions were sent to Russell, via whatsapp and text messages, but he too did not respond. Calls to his phone were unsuccessful.
Questions were also sent to Brooks via text messaging after he did not to return calls from the T&T Guardian on the signing of the lease agreement.