The inspection of the Guaracara refinery by Patriotic Energies and Technologies which started on Monday will continue over the coming weeks and is expected to be concluded by month-end.
Energy Ministry officials confirmed this on Tuesday after the inspection began.
In mid-February Government indicated the visit would have taken place around that time take since Patriotic had requested to see the refinery and had sought additional information.
Yesterday, UNC whip David Lee, who urged Government to reveal the state of the refinery, said the asset had suffered a great deal of vandalism.
He added: “Vandalism was reported even before Petrotrin was closed and reports of problems continued after, at different locations. It’s been on going at the refinery where a lot of infrastructure has been moved out as scrap and a lot of the property has been vandalised especially near where Petrotrin’s hospital was. Transparency demands that people know if this amount of vandalism might impact the sale.”
Patriotic was announced last year as the preferred bidder for the refinery after Petrotrin was closed and reshaped into three companies for exploration and production (Heritage) fuel supply importation (Paria Fuel Trading) and the refinery (Guaracara Refining company). Discussions have been ongoing with Government up to recently.
In mid-February, Prime Minister Keith Rowley confirmed there’d been some delay on the negotiation pace and Government couldn’t go faster than Patriotic was prepared to. He said Patriotic sought additional information and an expert review of the plant. That was the first part of the process. He added a visit to the refinery by Patriotic would have been done the following week and it was hoped that by the end of March, a decision would be made about the final buyer.
OWTU leader Ancel Roget, however, immediately denied Patriotic wanted additional information, adding Patriotic was justified in seeking to visit the refinery since the plant was down for a year.
He said Patriotic had a world-class team of local and foreign experts ready to inspect it.
Energy Minister Franklin Khan maintained Patriotic had sought addtional information though he projected amicable conclusion Khan said then the inspection would have started the following week.
When the inspection began, energy officials told Guardian Media the visit wasn’t done when Government planned since it was agreed Carnival wasn’t the best time to embark on inspection.
Up to yesterday, Patriotic’s preliminary inspection was moving at a good pace and was receiving “good co-operation” from Paria Fuel Trading Company and Guaracara officials. Patriotic’s expected to submit a report on what’s been found.
Upcoming phases of the exercise will involve in-depth scrutiny of the asset including regarding the wear and tear aspect. The inspection is on track to be completed. by month-end.
Patriotic consultant sproject turnaround of the asset could be achieved within three months via a US$400 million injection.
Moves are being made to finalise the deal by mid-April ahead of Government’s mid-year review. Among plans Patriotic projected was investing $300 million in Petrotrin’s houses and golf course/club, and creation of up to 4,000 jobs during refurbishment/restart of the refinery and terminal.
Lee said the Opposition learned Rowley had visited the refinery with an foreign engineering firm recently.
Lee added: “Since closure, there are questions about the integrity of the assets. The public needs to know the situation since “unemployment is rising in South. In Marabella for instance there’s been a 40 per cent closure of small and medium businesses and Government’s alternative projects—La Brea Dry dock facility, Phoenix Park industrial park—haven’t moved,”
Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who is acting for Khan—who is in London with the PM, did not reply to questions on the inspection.