Patriotic Energies and Technologies director Ozzi Warwick says he is surprised by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s assertion that Government cannot find a buyer for Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery because nobody is interested in it.
Rowley made the comment at a media conference on Tuesday where he announced T&T had received permission from the United States to access the Dragon Gas Field.
Addressing the status of interest in the refinery, Rowley said, “ We are talking to everybody who knows that we have a refinery, if they’re interested in it. But a refinery nowadays is not something that has a lot of people excited.
“But we hope that some day, someone might be interested and the fact that we can’t find anybody interested should tell you something ...”
However, Warwick yesterday confirmed that Patriotic Energies remains interested.
The company, formed by the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), had entered a bid for the refinery but the interest collapsed in January 2021, after their bids were rejected. At the time, Patriotic said it had already spent “tens of millions of dollars” on the acquisition process, only to be blanked by the government.
But Warwick yesterday said Patriotic still has an interest and welcomes negotiations.
“We have always maintained that Patriotic remains ready, flexible and willing to enter into any agreement to safely, efficiently and cost-effective restart the refinery and put workers back to work,” Warwick said.
He reiterated that many communities will benefit if the refinery gets restarted.
“Communities and Trinidad and Tobago will benefit. With all this high unemployment and idle human resource with an abundance of skilled and experienced workers, there can be no better time than now to restart the refinery,” he said.
The Pointe-a-Pierre refinery was closed in 2018 due to losses of more than $1 billion in the previous five years. The closure affected 2,600 permanent jobs, including 1,700 direct jobs. At the time of the closure, the facility had a processing capacity of approximately 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude.
In May last year, Minister of Energy Stuart Young said negotiations were ongoing with Quanten LLC, an American company which was engaged in the request for proposal process for the refinery.
On December 9, 2022, Rowley confirmed in Parliament that talks between Trinidad Petroleum Holding Limited and Quanten LLC on restarting the refinery were terminated on December 5. He said TPHL had followed due diligence in exploring Quanten’s interest in the refinery but the process “didn’t deliver a workable, usable solution.”.
As of December 5, he said TPHL wasn’t in talks with any party for the purchase of the refinery and “the door was still open,” and TPHL would continue exploring any interested entities, including regionally.
Since the closure of the refinery, there have also been shortages of bitumen, which is used for road rehabilitation.
As a result of this, since 2018, the Government and contractors have been forced to import bitumen, which is used by Lake Asphalt to produce asphalt cement. Bitumen is a by-product of crude oil and is produced through a refining process, according to investopedia.com.
Over the weekend, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan said the Government is moving towards alleviating the bitumen shortages which have hampered road paving.
“Part of the programme that the ministry embarked upon is an improved storage facility at Lake Asphalt. We have been operating where we produce TLA from the lake and mixing it with bitumen to produce a high-quality paving material but one of the problems was storage at Lake Asphalt and producing the volumes required,” Sinanan said.
He said 20 new bitutainers were purchased to assist in the importation of bitumen and storage.
Sinanan said once the refinery is reopened, T&T will no longer have to spend millions to import bitumen annually.