Closure of ailing refinery will save Trinidad from financial disaster – Prime Minister

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Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley speaking during an address to the nation on Sunday night.

In an address to the nation on Sunday night, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley said his government had to proceed with the hard decision of closing the Petrotrin refinery since failing to do so would have seen the country facing financial disaster.

Dr. Rowley, in the almost 1-hour long address, said Petrotrin has been in the red for years and the time was long overdue for a decisive decision to be made on the company’s future.

After assuming office, he said his government took significant steps to look into the operations of the company and come up with a plan to put it on a path to sustainable profitability. This led to the decision to shut down the facility. “These measures are expected to stop the tax-payer funding operations that are losing billions of dollars and to stop the hemorrhaging of much valued and much demanded foreign exchange,” he pointed out.

The Prime Minister said the primary objective is to transform the business of the company “from chronic money-losing to a return to profitability.”

Lack of political will has been the driving force behind keeping the refinery operational despite the fact that it has been incurring billions of dollars in debt, he said. “In short, the Petrotrin fix was always seen to be bad for politics and even one’s political survival,” he said, adding that the twin-island republic is at a place now where the company’s ongoing failure threatens national survival.

The Pointe-a-Pierre facility has a capacity of around 140,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) but the local production available for refining is 40,000 bpd. “We really depend mostly on a daily importation of 100,000 barrels per day which we refine at a significant and constant loss,” the Prime Minister stated.

He said the country uses less than 25,000 barrels of refined products per day and as such, it would be more economical to export oil and import refined products.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Opposition Leader, and former Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar had over the weekend urged the government to pursue a partnership with neighbouring Guyana to refine its oil in order to avert the closure of the Petrotrin refinery.