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Tuesday 25 September 2018
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Dinosaur Petrotrin

Khan calls on oil company to get with the times

Energy Minister Franklin Khan browses through some of the brochures on display by energy companies at yesterday’s 2018 Energy Resources conference and exhibition at the Hyatt in Port of Spain.
Energy Minister Franklin Khan browses through some of the brochures on display by energy companies at yesterday’s 2018 Energy Resources conference and exhibition at the Hyatt in Port of Spain.

STATE-OWNED Petrotrin has to change its leadership and improve on its technology as it cannot continue to operate on technology it adopted since 1962.

Energy Minister Franklin Khan, speaking yesterday at the 2018 Energy Resources Conference and Exhibition of the Society of Professional Engineers (TT Section) at the Hyatt Regency, said unless Petrotrin stepped up its game, it would get nowhere with technology and trade.

The oil company has been strapped for cash and was heavily in debt.

The minister said Petrotrin’s main problem was lack of capital. He said there was need for major capital injection, but that was a current challenge the company continued to face.

Last December, Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet said the cash-strapped oil company was in dire need of better management and organisation while Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the company owed Government $2.75 million.

During his feature address, Khan said “those with deep pockets, keep out,” alluding to Petrotrin and its financial hardship.

“This is a capital-intensive industry. To turn it around you have to invest heavily, and to invest heavily you need capital. Normally oil companies generate capital from their own profits and very rarely borrow. They generate their own working capital, and those who raise money raise it on the stock exchange.

“Petrotrin’s major dilemma is its lack of capital. Even though we succeed in getting our cost down and bring to an industry standard there will still be a need for major capital injection in the company and that is the current challenge that we face,” he said.

Asked about Oilfields Workers Trade Union general secretary Ancel Roget’s call for 2,000 Petrotrin workers not to be sent home, Khan said Government never said this was the case.

He said the board was working on a restructuring exercise that was still incomplete. He said with the restructuring there would be some fall out, but the board had been instructed to act appropriately.

“One of the problems in this country is we jump ahead of ourselves, so let us take it one step at a time and let due process take place and all may be revealed in due course. Time is of the essence so I hope it’s done in the shortest possible time.”

Asked about the union’s call for “a day of rest”, Khan said the union was entitled to ask their members to act in whatever form or fashion that was in the best interest of the labour movement.

“As a Government we cannot support action that impacts negatively on productivity. Even as we speak, if we are still in a financial crisis the only way to get out of that is to increase national productivity and any action that is working counter to the increase of national productivity is not a welcome move.”

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