Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee said the explosion at the Niquan GTL plant on Wednesday is a harrowing indication of the massive failure which looms from this government’s questionable deal with a company that has no track record in this industry.
He said with each passing week, it is becoming obvious that this Government’s Niquan deal is shaping up to be an explosive failure that will have severe repercussions on the energy sector as well as on the taxpayers of this nation.
Lee said the explosion was not an “out of the blue” occurrence as for weeks we have been hearing about significant issues at the plant with media reports confirming that the plant faced serious production issues since its commissioning a mere month ago.
“Niquan is a clear example of this government’s “Big talk No results policy” as only on the 9th of March 2021 the Prime Minister heralded that it was “a Triumph, a Resounding Success” at the opening of the plant, yet less than one month later, the plant continues to fall into disarray at a rapid rate.”
He added: “As a country, we are left to wonder if these serious issues at the plant are occurring because it was prematurely opened by the Government two weeks after the Opposition’s Motion of No Confidence in the Energy Minister to counter the facts that there has been no energy sector growth for five years.
“Did the colossal collapse of Point Lisas due to this government’s poor management of the natural gas sector force the Government to open this plant as a political stunt without allowing the company to hire qualified personnel to operate the plant?
Or is Niquan simply not able to undertake such a venture given their evident and troubling absence of industrial experience? ”
Lee also stated that “from the very beginning we have questioned not only the suitability of Niquan to operate this plant but the significant opportunity costs to our citizens. It is damning that the government has given Niquan this plant at a peppercorn rate despite millions being spent to build it, the government has agreed to buy all their offtake and also offered them a guaranteed supply of gas, yet all we have seen is uncertainty emanating from Niquan.”
He said “It is shameful that while companies such as Proman with decades of experience in our national energy sector are being forced to shut down plants as they did last week due to the shortage of Gas, Niquan is struggling to get its operations right with a guaranteed supply of gas from Minister Khan.
‘The people of this nation need answers on why this government is so invested in Niquan when it is clear that all the promises of tax revenue, jobs and economic activity are just “pie in the sky”. ”
As the Member of Parliament for Pointe a Pierre, Lee said he is extremely grateful that none of his constituents in the surrounding communities of Marabella and environs experienced any injuries or damages to their property. It must be noted that when the Petrotrin refinery was in operation members of the community were guaranteed assistance with healthcare in the event of a crisis.”
He said they are unsure of any assistance from Niquan in the event of an emergency as was almost the case yesterday.
As a result, Lee said there is a need for Independent Safety Specialists to ascertain the safety of Niquan’s operations in relation to the other plants on the Petrotrin compound as well as the risks posed to the community. Even though the refinery has been mothballed, Niquan must immediately undertake and present the findings of a transparent review of the safety of its operations on the Petrotrin compound.