T&T Gov’t rejects union-owned company’s offer to buy Petrotrin

A proposal from the Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co. Ltd. to purchase the State-owned Petrotrin refinery, has been rejected by the Trinidad and Tobago government.

The Petrotrin oil refinery (Photo: Yahoo)

The announcement was made by the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Franklin Khan, during a virtual press conference on Saturday.

“Today, I regret to say that this final proposal does not address the outstanding issues that could lead to a contractual sign agreement, and that is the state of play as we speak.”

According to Khan – the government is committed to restarting the refinery with private capital injection mindful that it restarts and has significant and positive impacts on the economy, GDP, and unemployment.

Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Franklin Khan (Photo: Newsday)

 Patriotic Energies is owned by the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) and in response the union’s former general secretary, David Abdulah, expressed  displeasure over the rejection.

“Not selling the refinery to Patriotic is the second major economic crime by the Keith Rowley-government. The first economic crime was closing down Petrotrin and sending home the workers,” Abdulah said in an interview with Trinidad Newsday.

A few years ago, the government shut down the refinery  after the Keith Rowley administration said it had been losing billions of dollars (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) annually over the years.

In September, Prime Minister Rowley, in an interview with the Trinidad Guardian newspaper, said that Patriotic Technologies “made us the best offer and was selected (and) we are currently working out contractual arrangements on which the outcome will depend. They are close, but it’s not finalised”,

But as he delivered the TT$49.5 billion national budget to Parliament earlier this month, Finance Minister Colm Imbert described the negotiations as “protracted” but also issued a warning.

He told legislators that the government’s deadline for the completion of this exercise is October 31, this year “and if agreement cannot be reached on a viable or practical contractual agreement by that time, after giving Patriotic all possible opportunities to finalise the terms of the agreement, the process will be brought to an end, and the government will consider other options for the sale of the refinery”.

Last year, the government said that it was granting Patriotic a three-year moratorium on the US$700 million purchase price and interest, and a further 10 years to pay the US$700 million it offered for the refinery.

The government had said that 77 bids were initially received which were narrowed down to 25 of which eight then submitted non-binding offers.