RADHICA DE SILVA
With Christmas just a few days away, executives of Patriotic Energies and Technologies Limited are waiting to see whether they will finally get acquisition of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and port.
In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, one of the company’s directors, Ozzi Warwick said they had yet to hear from the government as to whether their acquisition bid was successful.
Asked whether he believed the acquisition process could be closed before Christmas Day, Warwick said they remained hopeful.
“We believe that just as Christmas is supposed to represent hope with the hope of Jesus Christ, the closing of the acquisition process for Patriotic to acquire the refinery, will provide hope for the people of T&T,” he said.
He added, “With the level of hopelessness that exists now we believe that the decision to give the refinery to Patriotic will bring hope for T&T. It is not a Christmas gift to Patriotic but it will be rather a gift to all of T&T by giving the refinery to Patriotic.”
President General of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union and Patriotic director Ancel Roget in an earlier interview said once Patriotic gets the refinery and port, 4,500 workers will get immediate employment in the refurbishment and turnaround phase. He said there will be 2,000 permanent jobs once the refinery is operational.
On Sunday during a press conference, MSJ’s political leader David Abdulah called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley not to be ‘a scrooge’. He said the refinery should be given to Patriotic so that T&T could once again start earning foreign exchange from the refinery’s operations.
Abdulah said the Central Bank provides US$20 million to Paria Fuel Trading Company to purchase fuel. He said this was a drain on valuable foreign exchange.
Patriotic submitted a proposal on October 31 ahead of the deadline but that proposal was later rejected. Two days later Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley intervened and gave a mandate for a recommissioned Evaluation Committee to review all proposals for the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.
The committee conducted its investigations and submitted its findings to Cabinet on November 30 but since then there has been no word from Cabinet as to whether Patriotic’s proposal was accepted.
Questions were sent to Energy Minister Franklin Khan on Monday asking for an update but even though the message was read, Khan did not respond. Prime Minister Rowley also did not respond to messages.
The refinery has been closed since November 2018 when the government restructured Petrotrin. In September 2019, Patriotic emerged the preferred bidder out of a pool of 77. However, negotiations this year were affected by COVID-19 and issues of encumbrances and debt became a sticking point.