The Government’s announcement of the decision to reject Patriotic Energies’ bid on the Petrotrin refinery a second time may not have come as a surprise to some sectors of society.
Indeed, when its first bid was rejected late last year, it seemed unlikely Patriotic would have been able to make the adjustment needed to sufficiently address the deficiencies highlighted in the short timeframe given.
Still, benefitting from what some felt was preferential treatment from the Government, the OWTU-led entity submitted that second proposal and still did not meet the desired threshold.
While neither Energy & Energy Industries Minister Franklin Khan nor Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday gave the finite details of exactly what disqualified the latest bid, they suggested Patriotic was not too forthcoming with some critical information during the negotiation process but ultimately did not have the finances to make the purhase.
At the height of the exercise, however, both the Government and Patriotic noted that a non-disclosure clause forbids them from disclosing the details of the process.
Yesterday, Patriotic argued that the Government team had mismanaged the latest process, that it had the financing for the deal and that the first priority lien on Petrotrin remained the sticking point after Ministers Imbert and Khan denied this was so during the joint press conference detailing Government’s decision. Despite this, Mr Roget again urged the Government to give Patriotic another chance yesterday, calling for a meeting with the evaluation team to see if they can convince the Government to change its mind a second time.
In the face of all this, however, John Public is in the dark on making a proper assessment of the matter.
But with time ticking on the infrastructure at the mothballed Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, no doubt one of the most prized assets of T&T, the biggest question now is whether the Government will still be able to get a good bidding price from any intended owner.
It is noteworthy that following the very first bidding process, Patriotic was chosen ahead of two other entities in the final phase as the preferred bidder by the review committee, only to be disqualified thereafter. The question that now arises, therefore, is whether, given the scenario which prevailed last year, another entity, or Patriotic itself, will offer the Government a deal more lucrative than what seemed ideal months ago—especially given the continued flailing fate of the energy industry with COVID-19 still ravaging the world.
Patriotic was yesterday non-committal on whether it would enter the new bidding process for the refinery, expected to be announced within three to four weeks if it does not get its wish for a meeting with the review team.
Either way, the Government and citizens may only be concerned about ensuring a deal which obtains the best financial return for the refinery. Ultimately though, its restart by an entity best suited for the job so that citizens can once again benefit from the activities related to its operation is the main goal.
Citizens, therefore, wait with bated breath to see how the Government deals with the delicate process ahead.