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Bunkers CEO: We will provide more jobs for locals
Inaccurate. That’s how John T Canal, president and Chief Executive Officer of Bunkers International Corporation (BIC) describes the perception that the company will bypass the workers at state-owned Petrotrin when its bunkering operations pick up steam in T&T. He was dispelling concerns last week by Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) leader, Ancel Roget, that BIC would contract out jobs which Petrotrin’s Marine Division and filling bond normally undertook,
Alfred Canal, chief financial officer, confirmed that a licence was awarded for BIC to provide bunkering services but a few minor details were to be worked out and that would not take much longer. “Licences were granted by the Energy Ministry. We just have to finish up the paperwork with the different departments, (such as) customs and maritime agencies, it is just a formality,” he said.
Three weeks ago, at a post-Cabinet news conference, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine had announced Cabinet agreed on the issue of a marketing licence for BIC. Alfred said BIC’s existence in T&T would mean the company would be adding to the industry since there would be more work for Petrotrin. He added: “We have thousands and thousands of shipping companies that buy from us and we want to help develop Petrotrin and Trinidad to a much larger bunkering port.
“If we do that there will be more Petrotrin workers to deliver more fuel to more barges and more ships and there would be more work for Petrotrin, not less.” With operations in Colombia and several other countries, as well as at its head office in Lake Mary, Florida, Canal said incorporating local content in its operations had been a “critical” aspect of its business and the same applies to its T&T operations.
“We certainly know to operate here. We will have to have local talent, local expertise. We certainly know we will need local people,” he added. Responding to the comment that BIC would make billions in profits, Alfred said that was not true because the business of bunkering was a low-margin business. He said: “Bunkering is not really a high-margin business, I am not sure where that came from.
“There is a lot of risk. You have to bring in equipment, people. You have to pay a lot of port expenses, you have to get local people here to support that business, the business carries a lot of insurance, carries inventory that may depreciate. “You lose on every deal once the market drops. You have to stay competitive even though you are losing on every deal. Right now shipowners are suffering terribly.”
Asked to outline the nature of the contract, he said he could not disclose what was being negotiated, saying it is based on negotiations and sometimes on what the market has to offer. “We don’t have that part completed yet. In part I think when the announcement came that we had been granted the licence, we were aware of it at the same time. We know once it came we would have to put everything into play,” he added.
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