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Government does not plan to privatise Lake Asphalt or Petrotrin, Energy and Energy Affairs Minister Kevin Ramnarine said yesterday. The minister, who spoke with reporters after delivering the keynote address at the IX Latin American Forum on Energy and the Environment at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, refuted statements made by opposition and trade union officials who he said were trying to spread rumours. “I don’t know where they’re getting that from,” Ramnarine said. The minister explained that the farm out arrangements Petrotrin had entered into followed a model that has been in existence for 25 years. It was first started in 1989. He also said that the memorandum of understanding signed with China for Lake Asphalt is a conceptual document and not a move toward privatisation. “There will be no transfer of equity. There will be no transfer of assets,” he said.
Ramnarine had earlier addressed the lunch session of the forum which was organised by the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences. The minister, who visited the school, said he considers it to be the best for geosciences in the US. The minister said there are post-graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin doing more research on T&T than T&T universities but that he was pleased that many of the post-graduate students doing the research with the University of Texas are from T&T. Ramnarine told the audience comprised of many academics that “we are to the Caribbean what Germany is to Europe”. He said he would dare to add that Port of Spain is the capital of the Caribbean. He also gave an update on the draft national energy policy and said he will be submitting it to Cabinet for approval next Thursday. Ramnarine said he could not give details of the policy but said it is guided by 15 overarching principles. Once the draft policy is approved by Cabinet, the Energy Minister will hold a series of public consultations across the country starting, Ramnarine estimated, from April 28.
On the La Brea oil spill, the minister said there will always be criticism if how an oil spill is handled. Ramnarine also said that the only way to ensure that oil and gas infrastructure gives a good 30-40 years of service is by investing in its maintenance. The Latin American Forum on Energy and the Environment brings together government and industry decision makers, scholars and scientists to foster dialogue around energy and environmental issues. During yesterday’s session The University of Texas announced academic and research Partnerships with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).