Petrotrin Refinery

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Two days ahead of the October 31 deadline, the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies Limited has submitted a counter-proposal to the Government in its quest to acquire Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery.

In a statement issued yesterday, Patriotic director Ozzi Warwick revealed that Patriotic submitted a proposal at 10.07 pm on Thursday.

“During negotiations for the sale of the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery and the port, parties encountered a major challenge concerning the offer made by the Minister of Finance on September 20th, 2019,” Warwick said.

“It was only last Wednesday, October 21st 2020, that Patriotic finally met with the Ministerial Committee in an attempt to resolve the unique challenge associated with the Government’s offer of September 20th, last year.”

The union and the Ministerial Committee which is handling the negotiations had been at loggerheads over the offer.

On September 28, 2020, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gave both teams up to today (October 31) to agree on a way towards a final closure of the acquisition process.

“At last week’s meeting, Patriotic reiterated its commitment to complete the process and therefore agreed to submit a proposal to overcome the ‘stumbling block.’ Subsequently, Patriotic would have met with its international team and developed the proposal for the way forward,” Warwick said.

He noted that on Thursday, Patriotic submitted a proposal for the resolution of the issues, ahead of the Prime Minister’s deadline.

“Patriotic earnestly hopes that this proposal will lead to the swift completion of the acquisition process, paving the way to the reopening of the refinery in the interest of the People of Trinidad and Tobago,” Warwick added.

On September 20, 2019, the Government announced that Patriotic Energies had won the bid to purchase the refinery, beating out 77 competitors. Patriotic’s international team of lawyers worked out the technical and financial details and handed over the ten-point requirement plan ahead of time. However, it would be four months later on January 15 that the Government finally organised a team to begin negotiations. The first round of talks took place on February 19 and by March there was a site visit of the refinery and port. However, COVID-19 restrictions impacted on the negotiations, which resumed on July 14.

The company’s directors have promised to create 6,500 jobs once they acquire the refinery and port.

Prior to the August 10 General Election, OWTU president-general Ancel Roget had accused the Government of acting “with subterfuge and deception.” He said on July 14 the negotiating committee provided a document for Patriotic to sign but when its lawyers perused it, they realised that it was not in the best interest of Patriotic. Meetings were held on July 15 and 17 and Patriotic later drafted a final agreement, following which the Ministerial Committee raised 22 new issues.

In the lead-up to the election, however, Rowley said the Government would not be bullied into signing the agreement with Patriotic Energies.