Union Says it is Moving to Meet Deadlines Regarding Acquisition of Refinery

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Oil Field Workers Trade Union (OWTU) says it remains committed to transparency and is urging the population to be patient as it welcomed the decision by the Trinidad and Tobago government to sell the oil refinery of the state-owned company, PETRORTIN, to the union backed Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd.

In a statement the OWTU said that it is aware of the questions raised surrounding the deal and that it has always been at the forefront of insisting on transparency and exposing corruption at the refinery.

The union said it remains committed to transparently and would continue to do what’s in the best interest of the country.

Last weekend, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that the wholly owned union-backed company had been the successful bidder for the refinery that was closed last year.

Imbert told Parliament that the Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd, had won the bid for the refinery situated at Pointe-a-Pierre, in south Trinidad with a US$700 million offer which the government had accepted.

He said that the Keith Rowley administration regarded the company s the most suitable buyer over the US-based Beowulf Energy and Switzerland-based Klesch Group.

Imbert said that from the results for the request for proposals for the sale of the refinery, Patriotic was the only bidder that offered an upfront consideration of US$700 million. Beowulf offered a US$42 million lease per month over a 15-year term and the Klesch proposal indicated the only payment to government would be through taxes.

Government shut down the refinery last year as part of the move to revamp the state-owned company that had been losing billions of dollars annually, resulting in more than 5,000 workers being put on the breadline.

In its statement, the OWTU said the company has been given one month to present to the Evaluation Committee 10 deliverables which include the confirmation of its ability to finance the purchase and operation of the refinery as well as a draft Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) and various other Commercial Agreements inclusive of Crude Handling, Domestic Fuel supply, Natural Gas supply, Product Off-take, and Transition Support;

In addition, the company is also expected to present a finalized business plan that addresses other key deliverables inclusive of the provision of a guaranteed, reliable and seamless supply of refined petroleum products to Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region, ensuring the long term viability of the refinery, and reducing its carbon footprint.

The company is also expected to provide a refinery start-up plan which involves any necessary additional work inclusive of the Refinery Refurbishment plan and the Terminal start-up plan as well as a plan for the supply of petroleum products during the transition to full operationalization by Patriotic of the refinery, inclusive of the finalization of an MOU with Trafigura PTE Ltd.

“A suitable staffing plan, inclusive of senior management; proof of qualification to engender the start up and performance enhancement processes for the new business as well as the evaluation of growth opportunities to deliver solutions that integrate information, analytics and insight, to solve client challenges at all points along the energy value chain as well as approval from the Board of Directors of Patriotic for the definitive terms and conditions of the proposed transaction,” are also included in the 10 deliverables.

The OWTU said it “is confident that the Patriotic team will be working very hard over the next month to ensure that these deliverables are met. The Union is of the view that meeting these key deliverables will answer many of the concerns raised.”

The union said that it wanted to reiterate that all its activities have been in the national interest and that its 82 years of struggle “have been to bring justice and equity to the people of this country. “Although the struggle related to the closure of PETROTRIN and the acquisition of th

“The re-opening of the refinery, in due course, will return a measure of stability and security to workers, families and the travelling public. The OWTU’s acquisition of this critical asset will benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. All citizens may trust that the OWTU will continue to be guided by the best interest of nation,” it said.

The main opposition United National Congress (UNC) said that while it welcomed the sale of the refinery to the preferred bidder there were issues that still needed to be addressed.

“While at face value we have absolutely no objection to the sale of the refinery to locals, there are several outstanding questions which need to be addressed,” the party said in a statement, calling on Imbert “to explain how a company incorporated on December 4th 2018, just about 10 months ago, would be able to provide finance and expertise to secure a multibillion dollar industrial asset.

“The Minister must explain the Cabinet’s decision to sell the refinery without undertaking any due diligence on the preferred bidder. We also call upon the Minister of Finance to state urgently any and

all foreign partners associated with the preferred company.”

Energy Minister Franklin Khan said that he remains confident the selection process was transparent.

“The OWTU has now gotten a very strategic, national asset and we hope to bring it into operation at the shortest possible time.” – CMC

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