Fmr T&T PM touts refining Guyana’s oil to save Petrotrin, jobs

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T&T’s former PM and current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar

With the incumbent Administration of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) set to put thousands of its workers on the breadline as their state owned oil refinery, Petrotrin, will soon be closed, former Primer Minister (PM) and current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar believes a partnership with Guyana to refine our oil, once production starts in 2020, could be beneficial for both parties.

Persad-Bissessar has said she hopes good sense will prevail with Dr Keith Rowley, the current Prime Minister of T&T.

“I understand Guyana has found another well and they are producing. Can we not group in some way, and find a way to work together as a Caricom (sister state), where we can help them refine their oil?” she asked.

Persad-Bissessar has said that even if Guyana moves to build its own refinery in the future, the Petrotrin facility can still be used in the initial years of oil production in the South American country, where production is set to begin by 2020.

“Of course they will build their own refinery; but we have one, and many (of) the units in the refinery at Petrotrin are new, so a lot of money has been invested on the refinery side, and now they are shutting it down. It is total nonsense!” she was quoted by the Trinidad Newsday newspaper as saying.

It was only recently reported that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy cooperation between Guyana and Trinidad is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.

Sections of the media reported that Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister, Franklin Khan, confirmed this. While he did not go into details of the agreement, he said that would be disclosed after the signing.

Khan said T&T is willing to provide assistance to the Guyana Government as the country prepares for first oil.

Since 2016, discussions commenced between Guyana and Trinidad on an MoU under which T&T would provide various forms of support to the oil and gas sector in Guyana.

Initiated during a visit here in 2016 by a Trinidad and Tobago delegation led by then Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre, the MoU was expected to be signed at the end of that year, but that did not happen.

At the time, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had said the pact would see Guyana receiving support in a range of areas, including advanced technical training for local personnel in the industry.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that TT is seeking to get the Guyana Government to take a stake in the Petrotrin refinery, and in this way acquire a strategic asset.

The proposal is to ensure that Guyana gets its share of oil from ExxonMobil closer to home, and in this way employment would be provided to people of both countries.

Earlier this week, Petrotrin’s board confirmed plans to close the company’s refinery in October in a move which will cause the loss of 1,700 permanent jobs.

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