PETROTRIN defends decision to shutdown oil refinery

The state-owned oil company in Trinidad and Tobago, PETROTRIN, has defended the decision to end the company’s oil-refining operations, saying it is undertaking a restructuring exercise aimed at curtailing the billions of dollars  in losses.

PETROTRIN chairman, Wilfred Espinet, in a statement on Tuesday, following a meeting with the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) said the company was now redesigning entirely its exploration and production business.

Aiming at sustainable profitability

“The restructuring exercise is geared to curtail losses at the state owned oil company and get it on a path to sustainable profitability. Approximately 2,600 permanent jobs will be affected – the redesigned exploration and production business will have approximately 800 workers and all 1,700 jobs in refining will be terminated,” he said.

Espinet said that PETROTRIN is committed to cushioning the effects of any fallout that occurs from the planned changes and that Tuesday’s announcement follows months of careful review and analysis by the board of directors, appointed last September to identify the problems at company and take the steps necessary to make it self-sustainable and profitable.

Huge losses

“PETROTRIN has lost a total of about TT$8 billion in the last five years; is TT$12 billion in debt; and owes the government of Trinidad and Tobago more than three billion (TT) in taxes and royalties,’ Espinet said.

“PETROTRIN is no longer producing enough oil to operate the …refinery efficiently: We are producing approximately 40,000 barrels of oil a day and the refinery operates at a capacity of 140,000 barrels a day, so we have to go to the market to buy about 100,000 barrels of oil to make up the shortfall. This results in a net loss in foreign exchange,” he said.

The company said that the refining of oil will be phased out and the company will import the refined products including gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuels that the country needs, which is approximately 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. It said all the company’s oil will be exported.

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