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Petrotrin Refinery

They fought long and hard to get a conclusion to the negotiations for the acquisition of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and port before the August 10 General Election.

But more than a month after the election, Patriotic Energies and Technologies Limited is yet to seal the deal with the Government.

Last month, Patriotic’s director and president-general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget had accused the Government of using the negotiation as a ruse to get votes in the election. Several press conferences were held giving the media frequent updates on the negotiations which Roget said were seeped in “deceit and subterfuge.”

Now, almost a year after it won the bid to acquire the refinery and port, Patriotic Energies directors have gone silent, along with Energy Minister Franklin Khan, all of whom did not respond to Guardian Media’s questions regarding the state of negotiations.

In a telephone interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah said he was not aware of what was going on with the negotiations, adding things may be happening behind the scenes.

Abdulah renewed his call for the Government to end negotiations and hand over the refinery to Patriotic Energies before Budget Day on October 5.

“In my opinion, it’s a good and important thing for the Minister of Finance to report to the country the conclusion of this long drawn out negotiation,” Abdulah said.

He noted that a tremendous amount of work has to take place for restarting the refinery.

“It will be a major economic boost to the country, particularly in South Trinidad and this was why I was calling for the closure of negotiations,” Abdulah said.

On September 20 last year, the Government announced that Patriotic Energies had won the bid over 77 competitors. Patriotic’s international team of lawyers worked out the technical and financial details and handed over the 10-point requirement ahead of time but 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. The company’s directors promised to create 6,500 jobs once they acquired the refinery and port.

However, COVID-19 restrictions impacted on the negotiations, which resumed on July 14. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in the lead-up to election, said the Government will not be bullied into signing the agreement with Patriotic Energies.

—Radhica De Silva