Geologist Gregory Mc Guire has made a case for the refinery to be kept operational. Mc Guire said he does not envisage a TT future without a refinery. He said with 70,000 barrels of oil being produce that is more than enough to operate a modern refinery. He said with more value added to the products, more value will come back to the country. He said he cannot believe that this is the end of the refining business in TT because not to have a refinery is a walk backwards.
Mc Guire was one of a five-member panel discussing Petrotrin, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, at City Hall, San Fernando. The discussion was facilitated by the Lloyd Best Institute and attracted a large percentage of oil workers who are facing the breadline if government goes ahead with its plan to shut down the refinery.
Mc Guire said over the last 20 years there have been convincing case for change, and tough action would be required as well as new capital, to have an efficient and competitive refinery up and running. But it can be done. He said from a macro-economic perspective the direct and indirect impact would be great.
He said he was concerned about what would happen to the National Petroleum Company which Petrotrin supplies with fuel and whether that arrangement would continue, or NP would seek its own supplier. Similar concerns were expressed about the supply of bitumen to Lake Asphalt, a critical component of LATT’s operation and who would now import the item.
Since the August 28 announcement of the pending closure of the refinery there have been rumblings among Caricom countries which receive refined products from Petrotrin to fuel their own economies. Mc Guire also commented on the potential loss of this market and whether Petrotrin would be getting involved in the trading business. Geologist Dr Krishna Persad, another panellist said there were huge reserves of oil and there is no need to explore or drill new wells as espoused by Energy Minister Franklin Khan. Economist Dr Terrence Farrell, also sat on the panel along with Sunity Maharaj and Sherwin Long of the TT Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI).
“Our governments have not served us well,” Farrell said.
Sunity Maharaj Director of the Lloyd Best Institute spoke of the refinery closure from a political perspective. She disagreed with Farrell’s perspective that the government bought the refinery several decades ago to save jobs.
Maharaj said the purchase was more to save votes. She said in this present battle, the OWTU should not be the only stakeholder carrying out the burden of fighting back the closure of the refinery. She said while they are an important stakeholder, they are not the only one and urged people to stand up and speak out because this closure will impact the entire country.