As Petrotrin’s refinery becomes mothballed and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are sent to the ‘world at large’, workers say an extensive facelift of the upgraded refinery is underway.
A source who requested anonymity said the 22 plants have been pressure washed and are looking better than they have ever looked in years.
“The plants are now clean. The workers have cleaned up the oil leaks at the No. 4 VDU which provides feedstock to the cat cracker (fluid catalytic cracking unit also known as FCCU) as well as the Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel plant.
“Work has been done on all the plants. Everything was spruced up maybe except the AcidAlky plant which is yet to be decommissioned. It was brought down last weekend but we heard that it came back up because they need to use it to get an additive for the gas that is being imported,” the source told Guardian media yesterday.
He also said 50 air-conditioning units purchased over the August vacation remain in storage ready to be installed.
“The fence wire around the refinery has been replaced and they have cut all the grass throughout. We have heard that Petrotrin renewed the contract for the company that cuts the grass for one more year,” the source added.
Faded signs have also been repainted and all the potholes in the roads around the refinery have been fixed. However, he said preservation work has to continue as some of the plants needed rotation to prevent the machinery from seizing up.
“I have heard that there will be a profitable turnaround of the refinery within the next six months. We have also seen some work being done by NiQuan Energy on the GTL plant. They are busy installing lights. There is an arrangement to get steam and water from Petrotrin and if this is the case, they will need to keep the boilers running. For that they need workers,” the source added.
NiQuan Energy purchased the US$399 million project for just US$35 million, which included an initial payment of US$10 million and preference shares valued at US$25 million to be paid in two tranches. Last September, Niquan said US$100 million was needed to get the plant up and running.
The vesting of Petrotrin’s assets began in Parliament yesterday, when the assets of Trintoc and Trintopec were expected to be transferred to the Guaracara Refining Company, which will oversee all of Petrotrin’s refinery operations.
Communications Minister Stuart Young said the vesting will oversee the creation of three new companies, namely Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd, Paria Fuel Trading Company, and Guaracara Refining Company Ltd.
Young said these various entities will carry out restructured operations from November 30, 2018. He said once Guaracara Refining Company Limited comes on stream, Government will be putting out a very broad-based Request for Proposals (RFP) from the entire international market. He said there “will also be a data room at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery so that interested parties can come and view the data, view the plans and then make a reasonable proposal to the State.”
Energy Minister Franklin Khan also said yesterday that those who are submitting proposals will be free to submit “any business model, whether you want to purchase the refinery, whether you want to have a processing agreement, whether you have a source of crude, whether you have a new business model everything will be open for discussion.”
The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, the main union representing Petrotrin workers, has already teamed up with two international companies to bid for a lease arrangement of the refinery assets.
More on the refinery
The Pointe-a-Pierre refinery has 22 plants which include atmospheric distillation, vacuum crude distillation, visbreaking, naphtha catalytic reforming, catalytic cracking, hydrotreating, alkylation, MTBE synthesis, CCR Platforming, Merox unit, Penex unit and Diesel Desulphurisation.
The refinery dates back to 1917 and the first upgrade occurred in 1928 with the construction of the No 3 and 4 Topping plants. At the end of World War II, the refinery was recognised as the largest in the British empire. By 1940, the refinery went through another expansion, a top secret project known as Project 1234 and by May 1942 the first Catalytic Cracking Unit came on stream.
By April 1960, the No 8 Topping Unit came on stream along with a lubricating oil plant, canning plant and a paraffins plant. Following the unrest of the 1970s, the refinery continued to be viable and by late 1984, the State acquired Texaco assets including the refinery. Petrotrin came into being in 1993 and more upgrades were done on the refinery at a cost of $355 million and one year later Petrotrin recorded its first profit since 1990.
Between 2010 and 2011, more upgrades were done on the plants.
- by Radhica De Silva