Govt ready to sign refinery deal with Patriotic

Date: 
Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 20:00

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the Government is ready to sign off on the sale of the defunct Petrotrin refinery to Patrotric Energies and Technologies Company Ltd.

He made the announcement at the launch of Petrotrin Land Distribution Programme for terminated Petrotrin employees at the Palo Seco Government Primary School yesterday.

“It is the intention of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, in the coming days, to sign off with the OWTU and beginning of the way back for the Petrotrin refinery, known today as the Guaracara, as soon as the OWTU is ready to commit itself to what I had said in this statement today and provide its commitment by its signature.”

The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Ltd was chosen as the preferred bidder for the refinery from amongst 77 companies that showed interest in acquiring the assets after the Government closed down the refinery in November 2018.

Patriotic Energies was the only company that made an upfront payment offer of US$700 million. Calls to OWTU president general Ancel Roget for comment yesterday were unsuccessful. However, Guardian Media understands Roget was in a meeting with executives of Patriotic Energies up to later last evening.

Speaking in Fyzabad last month, however, Roget said they were close to acquiring the refinery.

Yesterday, Rowley said with the signing of the agreement the country would have solved yet another one of its major problems, as the restart of the refinery will stimulate the creation 7,000 jobs in the short and medium-term.

However, the Prime Minister said this outcome has not been without pain and acrimony.

Outlining the salient points included in the draft agreement Government had sent to Patriotic Energies in March, Rowley said this includes the schedule of work and costs of the refinery start-up activities and the restart date of the refinery to be 12 months from the closing date.

Rowley warned, however, that this deal and all the successes his Government had made in Petrotin debacle will be decimated if the United National Congress wins the August 10 general election and called on the OWTU and citizens to prevent this from happening.

“So when you hear the Opposition that thinks it can win an election, because accidents do occur, saying that if they come into government they, the Opposition, which will be the government, the government will abandon all of this, this sane, sober, transparent and serious process, they will abandon this and the government will return to operate a government refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre,” Rowley said.

“Two things you need to note there, the Minister of Energy mentioned one and that is even as they are saying that, the bondholders who raised the money to allow the country, through Heritage (Petroleum), to service that US$850 million loan that we dealt with last year, they would have heard the incoming government saying that the government was going to open the money-losing refinery. That immediately would call into question the status of that loan and its documents and its contracts and if they proceed with their foolishness, God forbid that on August 10 they become the government and sometime after they proceed to keep that promise, it would mean that we are back not just to square one but square one minus because the Minister of Finance will then have to treat with the bondholders.

“Immediately the country would be downgraded and if they have to service that loan to save the day, immediately we will be a candidate on the road to the IMF.”

He added, “I want to say to all of you, OWTU and WTUO, on August 10 you have a responsibility to come out and defend the people of Trinidad and Tobago the same way they defended you when you were in there and we have dodged a bullet with that US$850 million loan because had we not conducted our business properly…it would have been a completely different state of affairs in Trinidad and Tobago again.”

The land distribution programme for former Petrotrin workers who were terminated will see them being given residential and agricultural plots around the country. The programme will be done in two phases, with 1,000 lots being given out in the first phase.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the Government is ready to sign off on the sale of the defunct Petrotrin refinery to Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Ltd.

He made the announcement at the launch of Petrotrin Land Distribution Programme for terminated Petrotrin employees at the Palo Seco Government Primary School yesterday.

“It is the intention of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, in the coming days, to sign off with the OWTU and beginning of the way back for the Petrotrin refinery, known today as the Guaracara, as soon as the OWTU is ready to commit itself to what I had said in this statement today and provide its commitment by its signature.”

The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Ltd was chosen as the preferred bidder for the refinery from amongst 77 companies that showed interest in acquiring the assets after the Government closed down the refinery in November 2018.

Patriotic Energies was the only company that made an upfront payment offer of US$700 million. Calls to OWTU president general Ancel Roget for comment yesterday were unsuccessful. However, Guardian Media understands Roget was in a meeting with executives of Patriotic Energies up to later last evening.

Speaking in Fyzabad last month, however, Roget said they were close to acquiring the refinery.

Yesterday, Rowley said with the signing of the agreement the country would have solved yet another one of its major problems, as the restart of the refinery will stimulate the creation 7,000 jobs in the short and medium-term.

However, the Prime Minister said this outcome has not been without pain and acrimony.

Outlining the salient points included in the draft agreement Government had sent to Patriotic Energies in March, Rowley said this includes the schedule of work and costs of the refinery start-up activities and the restart date of the refinery to be 12 months from the closing date.

Rowley warned, however, that this deal and all the successes his Government had made in Petrotrin debacle will be decimated if the United National Congress wins the August 10 general election and called on the OWTU and citizens to prevent this from happening.

“So when you hear the Opposition that thinks it can win an election, because accidents do occur, saying that if they come into government they, the Opposition, which will be the government, the government will abandon all of this, this sane, sober, transparent and serious process, they will abandon this and the government will return to operate a government refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre,” Rowley said.

“Two things you need to note there, the Minister of Energy mentioned one and that is even as they are saying that, the bondholders who raised the money to allow the country, through Heritage (Petroleum), to service that US$850 million loan that we dealt with last year, they would have heard the incoming government saying that the government was going to open the money-losing refinery. That immediately would call into question the status of that loan and its documents and its contracts and if they proceed with their foolishness, God forbid that on August 10 they become the government and sometime after they proceed to keep that promise, it would mean that we are back not just to square one but square one minus because the Minister of Finance will then have to treat with the bondholders.

“Immediately the country would be downgraded and if they have to service that loan to save the day, immediately we will be a candidate on the road to the IMF.”

He added, “I want to say to all of you, OWTU and WTUO, on August 10 you have a responsibility to come out and defend the people of Trinidad and Tobago the same way they defended you when you were in there and we have dodged a bullet with that US$850 million loan because had we not conducted our business properly…it would have been a completely different state of affairs in Trinidad and Tobago again.”

The land distribution programme for former Petrotrin workers who were terminated will see them being given residential and agricultural plots around the country. The programme will be done in two phases, with 1,000 lots being given out in the first phase.

Additional

Salient points of Govt’s proposed draft agreement deal for the Petrotrin refinery with Patrotric Energies and Technologies Company Ltd

• The completion of the detailed inspection of the assets, inclusive of an inspection test plan

• The schedule of work and costs of the refinery start-up activities

• The concluded definitive financing terms for the seller’s credit note with Trinidad Petrotrin Holdings Ltd and Trafigura or any other similar entity

• The receipt of all licenses and approvals and successful negotiations of all collateral agreements

• Associated land for leasehold will be for a period of 99 years

• The period of handover of the logistics assets, inclusive of the terminalling operations of Paria, following the start-up of the refinery assets by six months with written safeguards of national fuels supply and fuels supply security, meaning that the refinery will have to be up and running for six months before the Government concludes the handing over of the terminal arrangements and documentation of the required licenses with safeguards for the supply of fuel to the nation.

• The restart date of the refinery to be 12 months from the closing date.