Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is hoping that a new board of directors to be installed at Petrotrin will be able to restructure and turn around the company within two or three years.
He announced yesterday that Cabinet had decided to restructure the company in a bid to see it become profitable and begin making a contribution to the economy.
Rowley was speaking at a news conference at the Piarco International Airport before leaving the country for a medical check up in the U.S. He said the nine-member board, to be headed by businessman Wilfred Espinet with Reynold Adjodhasingh as vice chairman, was chosen for its business experience as well as deep knowledge of Petrotrin.
In addition to Espinet and Adjodhasingh, the board comprises Nigel Edwards; Anthony Chan Tack; Eustace Nancis; Joel Harding; Linda Rajpaul; Randhir Rampersad and Selwyn Lashley, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs.
Rowley said that Petrotrin had run up huge debts which it was unable to pay and which had to be met by the Minister of Finance at a time when the minister was struggling to meet the other expenses which he had to deal with.
He said the first of these debts comes due in 2019 - U.S $850 million in one payment - and another smaller payment due shortly afterwards.
He said Petrotrin’s oil production has been falling considerably and its ageing infrastructure carries the risk of safety and the possibility of leaks polluting the Gulf of Paria and the Venezuelan coastline which he said would have huge consequences.
He said the company’s dated refinery is refining crude at a loss at the current level of oil prices and that because of the company’s serious financial situation, the Minister of Finance has been forced to pay for imports of crude oil to keep the refinery operating while it is losing money on each barrel of oil that it produces.