T&T energy expert “not convinced” Petrotrin is a viable option for Guyana’s oil

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A Trinidad and Tobago-based consultant in the energy industry says he is not convinced that the twin island’s Pointe-à-Pierre refinery; Petrotrin, is a viable choice for Guyana, as the South American country continues to explore the best options available for refining its oil.

Anthony Paul, Principal Consultant, Energy and Strategy, Association of Caribbean Energy Specialist Ltd. spoke with OilNOW on Thursday in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown. He said it must always be remembered that Guyana’s oil is the wealth of future generations, and therefore the entire industry should be treated as a business. As such, Guyana’s primary consideration should be where it gets the best value for its oil. “The answer to that is what is the Chemistry of your crude and the configuration of the Trinidad refinery…The Trinidad refinery is designed to handle heavier crude, and (Guyana) has light crude,” he said, adding that safety at the refinery should also be a concern. “When oil prices got high, the refinery got inefficient. Maintenance of the storage facilities in particular, wasn’t well done…so that is an issue.”

Several accidents have occurred at the Petrotrin refinery over the years. As recent as April this year, over 300 barrels of crude leaked into the Gulf of Paria from the Petrotrin refinery after a storage tank ruptured. The spill reached as far as Venezuela. At the time of the accident, OilNOW sought a comment from Petrotrin on the possible impact safety concerns at the plant may have on Guyana’s decision to use the facility. The company did not offer a comment.

“I am not convinced that Trinidad is a viable option…but I don’t know,” Mr. Paul stated. However, he said other considerations, such as the close proximity of Trinidad to Guyana would also have to be looked at. “It would be nice for both parties…because for Guyana, for every producer; what you get for your oil, has to deduct transportation cost. So, the further you sell it, the less you get for it.”

He said the physical location of the Pointe-à-Pierre refinery may be good but the technical configuration might be a challenge. “I would always say to Guyana; make a decision on commercial basis,” he emphasized.

A recent study by Pedro Haas, Director of Advisory Services at Hartree Partners, found that setting up a refinery in Guyana could cost as much as US$5B. The study concluded that such an investment was not feasible. However, Guyana is still weighing its options and a final decision on a local refinery, or an external location to refine the country’s oil, has not been made.

Mr. Paul spearheaded a Rapid Analysis of the State of Readiness of Guyana’s Hydrocarbon Regulatory Framework study, facilitated by the UNDP in 2016 and played a lead role in the formulation of Guyana’s draft local content policy framework, which is currently under review. He has worked with the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy, Petrotrin, Amoco, BP T&T and BP plc in London. He has also advised clients in East, West & Southern Africa, the Middle East, Central & Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.