THE EDITOR: Let us be very clear, Petrotrin’s problems are not mainly the designs of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU).
From the 1960s to the 1980s, TT purchased aging oil assets from multinational companies like BP, Esso, Shell and Texaco.
These multinationals were only too happy to sell them to PNM governments, whose major concern was limiting unemployment fallout.
Successive governments (PNM, NAR, UNC, PP) then proceeded to totally mismanage the patrimony of what, after several incarnations, became known as Petrotrin.
Boards were stacked with political cronies whose interests were mainly self-serving. This allowed the OWTU to find and negotiate its way to a powerful position within the company.
Executive management and managers were not held accountable for massive failures because the boards were already compromised.
The late Malcolm Jones, former executive chairman of Petrotrin, in an interview with UK-based FIRST magazine in 2004, stated that the company was not “in the running for increasing refinery capacity.” This was at a time when Petrotrin was refining 160,000 barrels a day but only producing 60,000.
He also stated that the then government felt that Trinidad “is a good location for additional refining capacity.” However, he preferred to ensure that the company was on a “more solid foundation before we commit to further expansion.” This was when he committed Petrotrin to the ill-fated gas-to-liquids project.
The bottom line in this whole Petrotrin issue is that the international ratings agencies, such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, told the government, quite bluntly, that the US$850 million bond, due in August 2019, will severely damage the country’s credit ratings if Petrotrin is unable to pay.
It was the straw that made the Rowley administration bite the bullet to close the refinery. It will be a bitter pill for the entire country to swallow.
LINUS F DIDIER, Mt Hope