The trading businesses of Paria Fuel Trading Company and Heritage Petroleum in the Caribbean are being hurt by statements implying that Trinidad and Tobago is breaking US sanctions, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said yesterday.
He said the Opposition’s narrative in this regard is hurting T&T’s economy.
Khan’s statement was among action in the Senate yesterday on Government’s problems regarding two Venezuelan issues. Khan had to clarify reports that Paria’s recent controversial fuel shipment wasn’t sold to the Aruban government—and the Opposition went after National Security Stuart Young on his recent statements about his conversation with US Ambassador Joseph Mondello.
Government has been under fire regarding the Paria fuel shipment, which the Opposition has alleged may have ended up in Venezuela. Also, Government’s had to defend its March meeting with Venezuela Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez. With US sanctions on Venezuela, the US Embassy has spoken out on both issues, noting T&T breached the Rio Treaty by allowing Rodriguez to travel here.
At yesterday’s Senate session, Khan was asked by Opposition Senator Wade Mark about the Aruban government’s reported denial that they purchased the fuel from Paria Fuel.
Khan confirmed this, noting Paria never said it sold the fuel to the Aruban government.
“The Aruban Government purchased no fuel from T&T. We sold to ES Euro Shipping registered in Switzerland, whose final destination of cargo was Aruba. At no point did (Paria) say it sold to the Aruban government,” he said.
Khan said Paria issued a full-page advertisement on Tuesday detailing the transaction.
“Nothing’s clearer than that. To go further, even when Petrotrin sold fuel to Aruba, it was never sold to the Aruban government, it was sold to traders. As it’s a trading business, governments aren’t involved in that,” he said.
Saying Mark’s question was the “definition of mischief,” Khan added, “But this mischief has consequences: it undermines Paria’s business.”
He said Paria is a trading service and communication n the trading environment is sensitive. He said Heritage is also a trading company, marketing through traders “… and they’re all affected – these companies; and the viability of the companies.”
Khan said the trading business is a serious one.
“Confidentiality is the essence of this business. You’re trading on a spot market, spot purchases, long-term contract prices – price and source of fuel are sensitive,” he said.
“Everyone knows of the US sanctions and by implying T&T’s breaking US sanctions, it hurts the business because all companies are sensitive towards that narrative.
“To propagate that narrative is hurting T&T when there’s absolutely no factual basis to so justify. It could impact – it has impacted on Paria’s trading business in Caricom and the Caribbean. It could impact on Heritage’s sale of crude oil.”
Khan said Heritage sells crude to traders “… Trafigura, Shell Trading, BP Trading and a series of other traders in the Caribbean. Heritage’s fuel goes to the US Gulf Coast refinery. Paria gets its fuel from the US Gulf Coast. So the UNC’s narrative is a deliberate attempt to undermine T&T’s economy.”