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Former Petrotrin chairman: Up to US$900m needed to upgrade Trinmar
The Government is being urged by several experts in the energy sector and the Energy Chamber to find a partner for Petrotrin and not just in its billion-barrelled Soldado fields. Malcolm Jones, former executive chairman of Petrotrin, told the Business Guardian that the company simply does not have the cash or technology to fully exploit Soldado and other assets. In the circumstances, he believes Government should find a partner. Petroleum consultant Dr Krishna Persad believes that several parts of Petrotrin’s exploration and production acreage should be broken up and private companies invited to participate. The Energy Chamber said an equity partner is needed, and former finance minister Wendell Mottley has suggested the need to publicly list the company.
This comes as Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has admitted there is significant interest from the Chinese, Brazilians and Japanese oil and gas companies in getting involved in producing oil from the Soldado fields. The 30-year Trinmar lease for Soldado will expire in July 2012. In an e-mail response, the Energy Chamber on Tuesday told the Business Guardian that it has made “strong and repeated calls for Petrotrin to seek equity participation” rather than seeking to take on more debt to finance investments. According to the T&T Chamber, the State Enterprises Investment Programme 2012 outlines a $2.8 billion of investments over the next 12 months. The majority of this investment is listed as coming from the company’s internal funds, including a $725 million Soldado drilling campaign and a $698 million for phase one of a southwest Soldado development project.
The Energy Chamber said: “Given the cash flow issues facing the company, primarily due to delays in receiving petroleum subsidy reimbursements, it may be a challenge for the company to raise these funds from internal sources.” Jones is on the record as having said that with Trinmar’s ageing infrastructure the company will have to spend between US$500 and US$900 million. In a telephone interview, Jones said: “I have always been of the view that there is a need for us to find a partner for Petrotirn. The company needs a new management team and it needs cash and technology to achieve its full potential.”
Persad said he wanted several partners for Petrotrin because that was the only way to maximise crude production. “If this is not done then we will have the same results with several areas not being produced because it is too small for the larger company.” The Energy Chamber said given the scope of investment needed, there must be a review of options for the company, including: • Sale of the assets • Public listing (all or part) • Joint venture • Lease out • Or a combination of the above
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