T&T energy chamber keen on updated co-operation pact with Guyana – CEO

Dr Thackwray Driver

Guyana should sell its crude oil for refining at the best market price and whatever is in its best interest says Dr Thackwray “Dax” Driver, Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Chamber of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).  

“It is your oil and you have to sell it where you get the best price and not in Trinidad and Tobago’s best interest,” Driver said.

Commenting on T&T’s Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s suggestion that the T&T Government pursue negotiations with Guyana to refine its oil to save the State-owned Petrotrin refinery, Driver last week told Stabroek News that the energy chamber would however, welcome a new and updated technical cooperation agreement between the governments of Guyana and T&T.

Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan

“There is a lot of ongoing relationships that we need to develop for the mutual benefit of both countries. The energy chamber has been focusing on the opportunities available to the energy services companies and trying to establish the right relationships between the private sector in Guyana and the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago to access those opportunities.”        

He noted that an old technical cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries years ago but that would be outdated. “A new agreement would be a very positive development,” he said.

Guyana and T&T are scheduled to sign new agreements tomorrow in Georgetown.

Also looking forward to a new technical cooperation agreement was Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, a former energy minister in the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration and an engineer by profession, who told Stabroek News that both countries would be looking towards mutual benefits. 

Guyana’s crude

On the issue of the refinery, Seepersad-Bachan said, up to last year discussions about Petrotrin refining Guyana’s crude was in the public domain though the outcome of those discussions were not known.

“Mainly because of the projected date of 2020 to begin production,” she said, “I think people still felt that they had some time for discussion on this issue. It doesn’t really. Refining Guyana’s oil at this stage does not address the current issues facing Trinidad and Tobago – that is the immediate closure of the refinery.”

The issue is the immediate closure of Petrotrin’s refinery and the continued sourcing of crude oil at competitive prices from other competitive sources to allow the refinery to operate during this time, she said.

Because of the projected date of 2020, she said, “if the refinery had remained open until 2020, you had the possibility of the ultra-low sulfur diesel plant coming on stream, which would have allowed for a wider range of crude oil to be used.” This will no longer be the case if the refinery is closed.

Nevertheless, she said, any arrangement between Guyana and T&T to refine Guyana’s crude “will depend on the economics of that particular arrangement which must be to the benefit of the citizens of Guyana and of course Trinidad and Tobago.”

She said there had been some discussions on types of arrangements with the first being T&T buying the crude from Guyana and processing it to produce refined products. This would have had to be done on a competitive basis.

The second option, “which I know there was quite a lot of discussions on between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago for some time,” she said, “was the possibility of Petrotrin’s refinery being used in an arrangement where the crude is processed and a processing fee is paid to the refinery to produce refined products that could have been reimported to Guyana or sold to Trinidad and Tobago and the CARICOM market.”

Going forward in terms of Guyanese crude being refined here at the Petrotrin refinery, she said, “would depend on the project economics and if it would make economic sense to both countries and the economics of that would have to be worked out to ensure that the pricing must be on a competitive basis to allow for best market prices on both sides.”  

Two weeks ago, the T&T Government announced the closure of the 100-year-old refinery due to mounting debt which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said was too much to saddle the country’s taxpayers with.

Persad-Bissessar called on Rowley to let good sense prevail and be cautious in making a “drastic and dangerous move” which will have a ripple effect in the country. She said that many of the units in the refinery were new and a lot of money had been invested in it and now it was being closed down. “It is total nonsense,” she said.  

Meanwhile, Rowley last week met with Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, Charles O Holliday who headed a six-man high ranking delegation from Royal Dutch Shell subsidiaries. Also present were T&T Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Franklin Khan and Minister of National Security/Communications and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.

A T&T’s Office of the Prime Minister release said, “At the meeting both parties expressed confidence that the empowered negotiating teams were working assiduously to conclude negotiations. Shell also reiterated its commitment to Trinidad and Tobago.”

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