OWTU says Petrotrin management must be held responsible for oil spill

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 13:00

The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) is blaming the management of Petrotrin for the oil spill that occured on Sunday.

The union is reiterating its call for restructuring at the State-owned company in a statement issued to the media on Tuesday.

"The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) has been warning for several years that the failure of various Management personnel at Petrotrin, and the Board of the Company, would inevitably lead to problems which would result in financial loss, environmental dangers, and even the loss of lives and limbs.

Once again, the Union reaffirms our call for the urgent restructuring of Petrotrin. The most recent incident at the refinery has given full credence to our claim that poor leadership decisions continue to plague this most important State Enterprise. 
The Union has always highlighted the critical need for improving and adequately maintaining the refinery’s infrastructure, including pipelines, storage tanks, and extremely important plant equipment, in order to better maximize the Company's profit margins. The Union has always argued that Petrotrin's current Management structure has not been working in the interest of the Company, or in the interest of the country.
On December 17th, 2013, we experienced one of the worst ecological disasters in our country's history, with a major oil spill that affected the communities along the coastline of the entire South-Western peninsula.

The Union publicly raised utmost concern in the lead up to that oil spill, and during the subsequent cover-up in its aftermath. We wish to remind the nation, that these concerns were presented in writing to the President, the then Prime Minister, the then Opposition Leader, as well as Independent Senators.  
The OWTU warned that if these critical concerns were not urgently addressed, the Company would run the risk of another major oil spill.

Unfortunately, neither Management nor the Board expressed the willingness to immediately treat with this ever-emerging crisis. All the actions taken by the OWTU to publicly highlight, and to have these issues addressed, are conveniently misunderstood and condemned, when in fact these actions should be supported in the country's interest. In fact, we wish to remind the country that in 2015 the President General was threatened to be fired, and was hauled before the Court for publicly highlighting the poor state of infrastructure and bad management at Petrotrin. 
As far back as 2009, the OWTU warned the then Government and Board of Directors that attention must be paid to, and investments made on the infrastructure of Petrotrin. All of this, along with preventative maintenance, could have been undertaken instead of the adventurous investment in the failed cosmetic WGTL project, which was stillborn from the very start. Evidently, the Union has been repeatedly proven to having taken the correct position on these issues in the interest of Trinidad and Tobago.
Once again, the OWTU is publicly and urgently calling on the government to consider our proposal for the immediate restructuring of the Management of Petrotrin. Their current approach to this crucial issue seems void of the priority and urgency that the situation desperately needs.

To do otherwise the Company will continue to be burdened with poor management decisions, and with an onerous governance structure that has repeatedly proven to be a colossal failure. Unfortunately, with the business-as-usual approach to Petrotrin’s Management, we again run the risk of other catastrophic failures with costly and deadly consequences, not only for the Company, but also for the environment and the country as a whole."