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Patriotic Technologies director Richard Lee, right, at an OWTU thanksgiving service at Butler Hall, Fyzabad, in June.

Ships heading to and from the Panama Canal will be able to fuel up in the Gulf of Paria once Patriotic Technologies and Energies Co Limited acquires the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and port.So said Patriotic’s director Richard Lee as he revealed that the company, owned by the Oilfield Workers Trade Union, was ready and willing to sign off on the deal to acquire the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery and port.Speaking at the OWTU’s virtual post-budget forum on Tuesday, Lee said once the company takes control of the refinery and port, it will bring direct foreign exchange earnings to T&T and stimulate the economy with jobs and investments.Lee, who is also the OWTU’s general secretary said because of T&T’s geographical proximity to the Panama Canal and the passage of international vessels, a sea fuel station was a great opportunity.“We can become the ‘gas station on the sea,’ where we can sell bunker fuel directly and pay for it in US dollars,” he noted.He explained in 2014, “Petrotrin used to make US$42 million in foreign exchange every month from bunker fuel sale.”Noting that the government has given Patriotic until the end of October to sign off on the deal or lose it, Lee said, “We are ready, willing and able to sign and this will bring direct foreign exchange, taxes being paid, job creation will stimulate the economy and that will redound to the best interest of T&T.”Lee said although COVID-19 had impacted on the negotiation, Patriotic had done everything it was required to do to acquire the assets. He said it is up to the government and technical team from the T&T Petroleum Holding Company to get serious and close the process.Lee said T&T’s economy was shrinking and unemployment was continuing to skyrocket.He said the decline in oil and gas prices has impacted on the profitability of the energy sector.Lee also accused the government of privatizing everything and not doing enough to stimulate growth in the economy.“Gas prices are too high to have businesses operated. With the opening of the markets for fuel, where is it going to be stored? Which port? What is going to happen to NP? They are going to privatize the gas stations and where and who is going to buy these gas stations? How is it going to happen? These are questions they did not answer,” Lee said.He noted that Patriotic planned not only to increase productivity when the refinery is restarted but to reduce the carbon footprint.“When we start up the plant, it will have no waste. We will recycle all the emissions that come out of the refinery and recycle it back into the refining process,” he said.Other panellists at the forum included the political leader of the MSJ, David Abdulah, economists Dr Indera Sagewan and Hayden Blades, United Farmers Association president Shiraz Khan, youth spokesperson Shenice Webb and Marlon Pierre of the Co-operative Credit Union League (CCULTT).