Espinet in dark about Petrotrin refinery sale

 (Trinidad Guardian) Petrotrin chair­man Wil­fred Es­pinet is hold­ing fast to his po­si­tion that there is no plan to sell or pri­va­tise the re­fin­ery at Point-a-Pierre which is be­ing shut down.

Es­pinet, who is out of the coun­try, re­ferred ques­tions on any plan to sell or pri­va­tise the re­fin­ery to Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley when con­tact­ed by phone yes­ter­day. His claim came hours af­ter the PM told the coun­try the re­fin­ing as­sets of Petrotrin could be put in­to a “sep­a­rate com­pany for op­por­tu­ni­ty at­ten­tion” and the Oil­field Work­ers’ Trade Union (OW­TU) “will be giv­en the first op­tion to own and op­er­ate it on the most favourable terms.”

But OW­TU pres­i­dent gen­er­al An­cel Ro­get has re­ject­ed the of­fer say­ing the union nev­er want­ed to own the re­fin­ery.

Wil­fred Es­pinet

Yes­ter­day, Es­pinet said he want­ed to make it “ab­solute­ly clear” that he had “ab­solute­ly no knowl­edge of any­body want­i­ng to buy the re­fin­ery,” nor had he “been in any dis­cus­sion what­so­ev­er with any­body, politi­cian, pub­lic ser­vant, union, any­body where I in­di­cat­ed to them that any part of the strat­e­gy was about sell­ing the re­fin­ery.”

Told fur­ther of Row­ley’s plan, he in­sist­ed he was “nev­er in­volved in any dis­cus­sion, rec­om­men­da­tion or pro­pos­al re­gard­ing the sale of Petrotrin’s re­fin­ery. Nev­er!”

Es­pinet said the de­ci­sion to close the re­fin­ery fol­lowed eleven months of work done with the as­sis­tance of a num­ber of ex­perts. He said by re­mov­ing the re­fin­ery, the com­pa­ny will have the mon­ey to pay its debt “be­cause it is eat­ing out the cash and you can­not pay the debt. But if you could stop bleed­ing of that cash, you can then re-di­rect the cash to pay­ing the debt.”

Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar has sug­gest­ed that a way should be found for this coun­try, as a mem­ber of Cari­com, to help re­fine the oil found in Guyana.

But Es­pinet said it is not as sim­ple as Per­sad-Bisses­sar made it out to be.

“The first thing is to go and find out how the Guyana oil is com­ing out of the ground, where it is mov­ing, how they mov­ing it, who owns it, who owns the rights and how do you get it,” he said.

Say­ing Per­sad-Bisses­sar was sug­gest­ing T&T can do it as a Cari­com part­ner, Es­pinet said, “In Cari­com we don’t even trade each oth­er’s goods. Where is the re­al­i­ty in all of this?”

Re­spond­ing to calls from for­mer en­er­gy min­is­ter Car­olyn Seep­er­sad-Bachan for a na­tion­al con­ver­sa­tion on the clo­sure of the re­fin­er, Es­pinet asked, “What does the con­ver­sa­tion do? All of that sounds very good. How does that con­ver­sa­tion pay the peo­ple their mon­ey? How does that hap­pen?”

He said once the in­vest­ments in ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion in­crease “you will get bet­ter re­turns and bet­ter re­sults. We have as­sets that have been de­ter­mined in the ground and we need to monetise them. They have not been mon­e­tised be­cause we have spent bil­lions on the re­fin­ery which have not worked.”

Asked about the threat of a shut­down by the trade unions card­ed for Fri­day, Es­pinet said Petrotrin “al­ways has con­tin­gency plans in place.”


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