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Saturday 20 July 2019
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Roget warns PM on retrenching oil workers

President General of the OWTU Ancel Roget.
President General of the OWTU Ancel Roget. PHOTO BY ANIL RAMPERSAD

President of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget is warning the Prime Minister that he will be committing “the greatest political suicide” if he goes ahead with a plan to send home some 2,000 workers from Petrotrin.

At a news conference called, last week, to update the country on the failure of the board of Petrotrin to turn around the company and its continuing decline, Roget said Rowley’s plan to save the oil company is by dismissing workers.

He said while the government was talking about high wage bills, the board was defending the $63 million consultancy spend. “They would spend $63 million on consultancy, but not to fill vacancies.”

While this is happening, he said the Minister of Finance is complaining that Petrotrin owes government royalties and taxes, and on the other hand is instructing the board to reduce the number of employees who would allow an increase in production.

Roget said reducing critical manpower in Petrotrin’s operations is not the answer for its success. He said the entire board, which does not have an inkling of how such an integrated oil company is run, but was appointed on the basis of friendship with politicians, must go now and competent people be installed.

He said since September 2017 under the Wilfred Espinet-chaired board, Trinmar’s production has fallen from 20,660 to 18,464 barrels of oil per day, and predicted a continuing fall in production if the company goes ahead with its plan to shut down drilling and close down all work over activities. Speaking from its Paramount Building headquarters, San Fernando, Roget said no amount of scaling back would benefit the refinery. He said the fall in production comes at a time when the world is enjoying appreciated oil prices.

Yet, he said, the “armchair gurus, politicians and pundits” who have no grounding in facts and/or reality but predicted oil prices were not likely to increase in this lifetime have failed to prepare for the windfall.

He said this country enjoys peaks when oil prices are good and suffers when there are troughs, but, “The one constant remains: when oil prices are low, we also suffer a fall in production in terms of crude and oil and gas.”

He said if the board understood the nature of oil, they would have prepared by increasing volumes when prices were low so they could enjoy good fortunes when the prices increased.

“Oil prices going up and yet production going down at Petrotrin. Petrotrin performance is going down because you don’t have a board that is competent to cash in on this windfall.”

He also questioned the appointment of consultant Robert Riley, who is charged with responsibility for exploration and production on both land and sea, saying at a time when the country needs increased revenue, Riley is responsible for the low production. Roget accused Riley of operating by Skype from London three times a week, saying he is never in the country to take critical decision.

He called on Rowley to “bring an end immediately to management by Skype.”

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