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A police officer diverts traffic in Pointe-a-Pierre following the explosion at the Niquan plant

The explosion at the Niquan gas-to-liquids plant in Pointe-a-Pierre was caused by a component failure which resulted in a blowout, the Energy Ministry said in a statement

The Ministry said it is setting up a technical team to investigate the cause of the accident and is in “constant contact” officials of Niquan Energy who are currently at the plant.

In a brief response to Guardian Media, Niquan Energy said there were no casualties following the explosion and subsequent fire at the plant.

“The incident area has been contained and made safe and our safety team is currently in the process of identifying the cause,” said Malcolm Wells, Niquan’s VP of Corporate Affairs.

“I need to hear what the safety team says before I can comment further but that’s the situation as it currently stands.”

Former energy minister Kevin Ramnarine said while there was no officia word on what caused the explosion, it was clear that there was a failure of a newly commissioned plant.

Ramnarine also said that fence line communities in the area were threatened by the plants proximity.

The plant was commissioned by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley just last month. At that time Dr Rowley praised Niquan and the peripheral teams that got the plant off the ground.

The GTL plant itself has a contentious history in T&T as construction began in 2007 and over the years it became a billion dollar white elephant for the State. At one point, former Petrotrin chairman Lindsey Gilette floated the idea of selling the infrastructure as scrap iron to recoup some of the millions invested.

At the commissioning of the plant, Rowley said when Niquan acquired the plant in 2018 Petrotrin received an upfront cash payment of US$10 million with a remaining US$25 million to be paid in preference shares.

He said Government was set to receieve some $2 billion in taxes and statutory payments over the life of the project.