Half a million being spent every month to maintain Petrotrin Refinery

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Half a million being spent every month to maintain Petrotrin Refinery

A new operator is still being sought for the Petrotrin Refinery.
However, the State has been spending around half a million dollars monthly in taxpaying dollars to maintain the now-defunct Refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre.

This revelation was made on Wednesday, during the Public Accounts and Enterprises Committee (PAEC), inquiry into the audited consolidated financial statements of Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited (TPHL) for the year ended September 30, 2019.

It was revealed by Newman George, chairman of the Guaracara Refining Company (GRC), one of the four subsidiaries of TPHL, following a question by Rushton Paray, vice-chair of the PAEC.

George said: “The monthly cost is about TT$500,000.”

Paray then asked if Heritage Petroleum funded the almost $6 million annual maintenance fee but George said GRC paid that bill, but with money from other TPHL subsidiaries.

“We have a series of lease arrangements with Paria and Heritage, we have tank storage et cetera which we generate that income from,” George explained.

GRC oversees the preservation of refinery assets and provides utility services to Paria Fuel Trading.

Paray questioned if getting this bill off their books is now a further incentive to find a new owner to take full responsibility for the refinery’s assets.

TPHL chairman Michael Quamina answered, “Absolutely, there is no greater driving force in so far as the refinery is concerned in trying to get somebody to take it over. I don’t even think there are driving forces more significant than that. And there are additional costs, we have the Bank of Nova Scotia out of Houston that are consultants that go through each bid and assist with the assessments of these bids.”

Quamina said this was the most progress they had made in finding a new refinery owner and told the PAEC that several prospects had come forward.

Paray asked if TPHL would share how many bidders were in the running.

Paria general manager Mushtaq Mohammed responded, “Currently, we have had eight expressions of interest for the purchase/lease/restarting of the refinery.”

Mohammed said they also received unsolicited proposals.

“Our process is that we expect non-binding offers from 10th May and from then we will review those offers and understand the way forward,” Mohammed said.