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OWTU president general Ancel Roget, centre, with Ozzy Warwick, left, and Richard Lee, right, after a news conference at OWTU’s Paramount Building, San Fernando, yesterday.

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Patriotic Energies & Technologies Ltd, the company wholly-owned by the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union, is close to signing the first stage of an asset purchase agreement to acquire the Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and port.

The negotiations started at 11 am yesterday in Port-of-Spain and included Patriotic’s directors Ancel Roget, Ozzi Warwick and Richard Lee, chairman of T&T Holdings Limited Newman George, chief executive officer of Paria Fuel Trading Company Mustaq Mohammed, attorney Ulric Mc Nichols and technical staff.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference at the union’s Paramount headquarters in San Fernando, Roget expressed hope that the first stage will be signed and the entire arrangement will be concluded before the August 10 General Election.

He declined to comment on a call from Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for Government to explain under what circumstances it had taken a decision to give the multi-billion-dollar refinery and port to Patriotic, “without undertaking any due diligence on the preferred bidder.”

Persad-Bissessar had also called on Minister of Finance Colm Imbert to state urgently any and all foreign partners associated with Patriotic.

However, Roget yesterday said he had no comment to make on Persad-Bissessar’s calls saying he will deal with that at another time.

“Nobody, absolutely nobody, be he the prince or the pauper, the Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader, the labourer or the manager, the man on the street, nobody will prevent us from going forward to acquire this refinery,” Roget said.

He explained that the OWTU’s wholly-owned company had beat out over 77 competitors to win the bid.

“We won the bid on the basis of our very comprehensive world-class proposal second to none, far from all contenders, beating them out, for the benefit of the people of T&T,” Roget said.

He noted that once the first stage of signing is complete, Patriotic will enter into the second round of negotiations to settle further requirements, following which the company will take control of the refinery.

Roget promised to provide 4,500 permanent jobs for citizens. He said unlike its last incarnation, the refinery will not be top-heavy with a surplus of managers like Petrotrin was.

“Our one objective is to ensure that we have the real fuel security by reopening that refinery, free from political interference in all people of T&T and I dare say locally owned for and behalf of people of T&T,” he said.

Roget added, “There will not be jobs for senior executives and hundreds of managers, which was part of the old order. There are jobs for the man on the street, scaffolders, labourers, technical workers, operators and there are jobs for those categories of workers, safety officers, all of whom are involved in the business of the turnaround and construction phase; 4,500 permanent sustainable jobs for those who are involved in the business of running the refinery.”

Roget also said the refinery will bring in foreign exchange and kickstart T&T’s floundering economy.

Once negotiations conclude, Roget said he will hold another press conference and appraise the nation of developments. He said this information will ensure that citizens make an informed decision when they go to the polls on August 10.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that the Government was ready to sign off on the sale of the defunct Petrotrin refinery to Patriotric Energies. In defending the decision to select Patriotic, the PM said it was the only company from amongst the bidders that had made an upfront payment offer of US$700 million to Government for the refinery.