Quality of fuel good

The qual­i­ty of NP fu­el is fine.

That was the as­sur­ance yes­ter­day from Na­tion­al Pe­tro­le­um Mar­ket­ing Com­pa­ny chair­man Sahid Ho­sein who said NP’s fu­el is test­ed every day be­fore the com­pa­ny is­sues it to ser­vice sta­tions.

“So con­cerns about qual­i­ty are un­found­ed. I as­sure the mo­tor­ing pub­lic, very strin­gent mea­sures are un­der­tak­en be­fore fu­el is tak­en to sta­tions to be sold,” Ho­sein told Par­lia­ment’s Pub­lic Ac­counts En­ter­pris­es Com­mit­tee (PAEC)

The PAEC was ex­am­in­ing NP’s ac­counts. PAEC chair­man Wade Mark quizzed Ho­sein on NP fu­el qual­i­ty. Ho­sein said he’d heard of con­cerns via the me­dia and while some may be re­al, he felt it was “a lot of fear­mon­ger­ing in the pub­lic”.

When fu­el comes to NP’s Sea Lots port, sam­ples are tak­en be­fore NP takes cus­tody of the fu­el, Ho­sein ex­plained. Tests are done in a first-class lab cer­ti­fied by Cariri.” This is to en­sure it meets spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Af­ter, it’s of­floaded in­to our tanks. Every day we test the fu­el be­fore send­ing it out,” he said.

On qual­i­ty com­plaints, Ho­sein said, for ex­am­ple, some­one buy­ing $90 worth of fu­el who’s now pay­ing $160, maybe do­ing so re­al­ly due to the re­cent price in­crease, “But I’m not sure the in­crease even war­rants this.”

On the im­pli­ca­tions of the Petrotrin re­struc­tur­ing for NP’s costs and fu­el sup­ply, Ho­sein said NP had had cer­tain pro­to­cols in deal­ing with Petrotrin.

“While that hasn’t changed sig­nif­i­cant­ly, we’re not ab­solute­ly cer­tain how the land­scape will un­fold or evolve. We had cer­tain arrange­ments and lee­way in terms of pay­ment to Petrotrin. At this point, we’re not sure how those re­quire­ments will con­tin­ue or whether they’ll evolve and what chal­lenges they may pose for us if there are go­ing to be changed.”

He said the im­pact may main­ly be of a fi­nan­cial na­ture. “From what we’ve seen so far, the arrange­ments of the past will con­tin­ue in the fu­ture,” he said.

For in­stance, NP will con­tin­ue buy­ing jet fu­el from the re­struc­tured Petrotrin.

On safe­ty con­cerns since NP’s lo­cat­ed in a “hotspot” near Beetham/Sea Lots, CEO Bernard Mitchell con­firmed that a $400,000 se­cu­ri­ty cam­era sys­tem in­stalled two years ago with TSTT—ex­pect­ed to do the mon­i­tor­ing—had gaps. NP is now in a clos­er re­la­tion­ship with TSTT which is re­pair­ing cam­eras. A video wall be­ing in­stalled will be mon­i­tored by an of­fi­cer in NP and oth­er re­sources have been hired, he as­sured.

PAEC mem­ber Fitzger­ald Hinds, not­ing se­cu­ri­ty de­fi­cien­cies in an NP-in­ter­nal au­dit re­port, said an ex­am­i­na­tion of state en­ter­pris­es have re­vealed a cul­ture of “Is dem own, not we own” and per­son­nel don’t ex­ert ef­forts to get the state sec­tor from low to high. He said se­ri­ous safe­ty mea­sures are need­ed in to­day’s world.

NP’s Nicole King (Hu­man Re­sources) said 60 per cent of gaps in the re­port were ad­dressed, ad­di­tion­al re­sourc­ing pro­vid­ed and NP’s se­cu­ri­ty plan and op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures were re­viewed. By March, all is­sues would have been suc­cess­ful­ly ad­dressed. NP al­so has Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty as­sis­tance.

Mitchell said a 2011 wage ne­go­ti­a­tion mat­ter, now in the In­dus­tri­al Court, is ex­pect­ed to be con­clud­ed by March. Two oth­er ne­go­ti­a­tions will fol­low.

He tar­get­ed a $35 mil­lion prof­it this year, but ex­tra­ne­ous items—pen­sions, etc, must be fac­tored in be­fore the true pic­ture emerges. He said NP has a 75 per cent mar­ket share, but there has been a de­cline in vol­umes by four or five points as peo­ple dri­ve more con­ser­v­a­tive­ly and since the con­struc­tion sec­tor was hit in the eco­nom­ic down­turn. The $1 Su­per gas in­crease from the 2019 Bud­get plumped NP’s rev­enue, but there was al­so vol­ume de­crease.

How­ev­er, NP has no debt. Mitchell said NP’s rev­enue and cost man­age­ment is “an ac­tive is­sue”. NP has “quite a few” in­vest­ment prop­er­ties which are leased at $60,000 month­ly and which will rise to $100,000 by next Sep­tem­ber. Oth­er busi­ness in­vest­ments are al­so be­ing ex­am­ined in­clud­ing joint ven­tures out­side of T&T—but bor­row­ing may be need­ed.

Mitchell said NP’s most in­tense com­pe­ti­tion is for the lu­bri­cant mar­ket. He not­ed oth­er prod­ucts weren’t giv­en the du­ties/tax­es they should get—but he pro­ject­ed in­creased mar­ket share. NP sells man­u­fac­tured lu­bri­cants to CARI­COM and in or­der to make a prof­it ex­port­ing must con­tin­ue.

Reporter: Gail Alexander

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