THE reported $20 million in theft and sabotage of equipment at Petrotrin’s successor– Heritage Petroleum– is being described as merely a transfer of wealth at the expense of the people of this country.
At a news conference in San Fernando on Sunday, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah said the loss of the assets is wholly and solely the responsibility of the Prime Minister, Energy Minister Franklin Khan. Trinidad Petroleum Holdings chairman Wilfred Espinet and ex BPTT head Robert Riley.
“Estate police officers who were employed by Petrotrin directly, and employees who were regularly working in the oilfields, ensured the security of the assets of Petrotrin.
“When the officers and workers were removed by dismissal in November 2018, the first line of defence for the assets of Petrotrin was removed.”
He accused Espinet and others of trying to throw the blame on former workers.
Abdulah said the Petrotrin security officers were replaced by ones from the private security firm Amalgamated “which seems to get the multi-billion dollar contracts.”
“They have the transport of prisoners’ contract, as well as patrolling the marine areas in Petrotrin, and it is rumoured that they are about to get the contracts for the airport security as well.”
Abdulah said the government’s apparent privatisation policy is filling the pockets of multi-billionaires. This, he said, is resulting in the loss of assets by the people of this country.
He said the importance of the energy sector should not be underestimated since it is the lifeblood of the economy.
“I want to lay squarely at the feet of Rowley, Khan, Espinet and Riley...these are the ones to be blamed for the complete failure of Petrotrin.”
He referred to the 2003 closure of Caroni 1975 Ltd by then PNM government.
“This country, taxpayers lost hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment and machinery. The country also lost hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of land which have been given away and squatted upon by big businesspeople in TT, and the same if being repeated with Petrotrin."
He said the loss of equipment and machinery in the oilfield is bigger than what is reported.
“Just as when Caroni closed there are big contractors who got all kinds of equipment out of Caroni, so to there will be contractors and people engaged in farm-out and lease-out arrangements in the oilfields. I say so without fear of contradiction.”