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OWTU president-general Ancel Roget addresses the media during a press conference at the OWTU's headquarters at Paramount Building, San Fernando, on Sunday.

Sascha Wilson

Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Ltd not only satisfied the key issues in its counter-proposal to Government but also made an upfront cash payment for the acquisition of the Petrotrin refinery.

“We are saying with confidence that we met all of the requirements,” Oilfield Workers Trade Union president-general Ancel Roget said during a press conference at the OWTU’s headquarters at Paramount Building, San Fernando, on Sunday.

Roget was responding to the Government’s rejection of their counter-proposal, which was submitted two days ahead of the October 31 deadline for an agreement to be struck.

During a virtual press conference on Saturday, Energy and Energy Affairs Minister Franklin Khan said Patriotic’s final proposal failed to address three key issues. The minister said the issues were the purchase price financing, restart financing and first priority lien on the assets.

While they are surprised by the minister’s announcement, Roget said he felt the ministerial team did not properly scrutinise Patriotic proposal. As such, he is requesting that the same Cabinet-appointed evaluation team that had reviewed Patriotic’s initial proposal last November be given the opportunity to review its counter-proposal.

Asked whether he was concerned that the Government will now be exploring its options, Roget said, “We are concerned but at the same time our request this morning is for the Government, in the interest of the country of Trinidad and Tobago, to stay their hands, but at the same time give an opportunity for this latest proposal which is in line with the minister’s offer which seeks to get over the hurdle of the stumbling block that they have, allow for that to be properly evaluated.”

It was last September that the Government announced that Patriotic Energies had won the bid to purchase the refinery, beating out 77 competitors. The first round of negotiations with the Government’s ministerial team began in February and visits to the refinery were done in March. In July, the Prime Minister had announced that the Government was ready to sign the deal with Patriotic. However, in the months that followed the union and the ministerial team were at loggerheads and on September 28 the Prime Minister gave the parties until October 31 to come to an agreement. Patriotic submitted its counter proposal on October 29.