Shocked OWTU learns of Government’s refinery rejection on TV


OWTU president general Ancel Roget. –

PATRIOTIC Energies and Technologies Company Ltd has reacted with shock to Government’s decision not to proceed with its proposal to acquire the Guaracara refinery and Paria Fuel Trading Company.

Hours before the announcement, the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), Patriotic’s parent company, told Newsday it was hopeful the offer would be approved.

The OWTU has scheduled a news conference at 10 am on Friday to respond to the latest blow.

However, one of Patriotic’s directors, Ozzie Warwick, said Government kept them in the dark by not telling them of the decision before Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced it at the post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday.

At the end of his statement, Imbert said Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL) and Government would thank Patriotic for its proposal and inform the company that the exclusivity granted for the acquisition of Guaracara and Paria can no longer be supported by TPHL or the Government.

TPHL is responsible for managing Trinidad and Tobago’s oil and related assets and has four subsidiaries including Paria, Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd, Guaracara Refinery Ltd and Petroleum Company of TT (Petrotrin).

In an interview, Patriotic’s main principals – Warwick and OWTU’s president general Ancel Roget – between 10 and 11 am on Thursday, both men said they were hopeful  their offer would find favour with Government.

“We are confident, if Government is willing, the proposal we put before them will find favour, because it is not now a situation where there is no money,” Roget said.

“There is money, there are financiers ­– in this case two financiers – committed to paying this money for the purchase of this refinery and also capital for the restart, the refurbishment process.”

He said on February 5, Patriotic submitted one proposal from Credit Suisse, requested by Government, on the company’s ability to finance the deal, and a second from a top global financial institution, both committed by means of a letter to the process.

Recalling the advice of the Cabinet-appointed economic recovery committee, which also recommended the early restart of the refinery, Roget said there was enough compelling goodwill and support coming from all sectors pushing Government in that direction.

He said at a time when there is no economic activity taking place in the country, the acceptance of their offer would have seen an injection of US$1 billion into the country, the creation of 4,500 jobs and the trickle-down effect to hardware stores, contractors and the man on the streets.

“If the government really co-operates and works with Patriotic, it is the only way the country would benefit. If they don’t, they will be setting up those assets, because we are in the covid19 period where refineries all over the world are closing down for one reason or another, and any purchaser would see today’s value at really peppercorn rates.

“We are committed to the price we would have bid back then. We have always seen the value in that (refinery).”

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