Petrotrin refinery spruced up to attract buyer

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 

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