T&T Govt gets report on Petrotrin’s future

(Trinidad Guardian) The board of Petrotrin has handed in a status report to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the planned restructuring of the cash-strapped energy company.

A decision has not yet been made on what form that restructuring will take but Rowley is expected give some details when he addresses the nation on Sunday evening.

The board’s report was handed over during a meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister which was attended by Energy Minister Franklin Khan, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte and Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis.

Discussions focused on options available for restructuring the wholly state-owned company.

Since being installed last September, the Petrotrin board, which is chaired by businessman Wilfred Espinet, has been considering a report from the Petrotrin Review Committee chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Selwyn Lashley.

That committee was set up last March 2017 after Cabinet decided to assess the operations of the company in light of falling revenues, allegations of mismanagement and decreasing oil prices. The report identified challenges, risks and shortcomings and recommended the establishment of three operationally independent business units within the company: Trinmar, Land Exploration, Production Refining and Marketing.

Petrotrin’s operations were affected by a dramatic slump in crude oil prices, combined with an ongoing decline in refinery margins and declining local oil production. Its revenues fell by more than 50 per cent, from $37 billion in 2012 to $16 billion in 2016.

The company—a net earner of foreign exchange—an important contributor to tax revenues and a guarantor of the country’s energy security, has more than 5,000 employees and an annual wage bill of $1.9 billion, which is close to 50 per cent of its annual operating costs.

Last September, Rowley announced plans to begin converting the company “in the shortest possible time from being a ward of the State to a company that not only conducts a stable business but conducts business as profitable and will continue to contribute profits to other benefits of national improvement.”

Petrotrin has a US$850 million debt due in 2019.

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