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Friday 6 December 2019
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[UPDATED] UNIPET CUT OFF

Paria stops gas supply to 24 service stations

Security officers at Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd, Pointe-a-Pierre. FILE PHOTO
Security officers at Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd, Pointe-a-Pierre. FILE PHOTO

PARIA Fuel Trading Company, as of on Tuesday, stopped providing Unipet with fuel, a statement from the company said.

However, Paria added there was no fuel shortage.

In the statement, Paria said the decision would not affect the fuel available to drivers and the country would continue to have a steady, secure supply.

“Paria will make available to the National Petroleum Marketing Company (NP) the difference in the quantity of fuel required to meet the country’s full needs.

“NP will distribute the full supply so that the motoring public should see no disruption,” the statement said.

Paria said it decided to cut Unipet’s fuel supply because the company failed to renegotiate a supply agreement since April 2019. It also said Unipet had defaulted on payments owed for September and October 2019 deliveries.

“Paria has had challenges receiving payment from Unipet in accordance with the agreed payment schedule; this failure to pay monies when due has the potential to affect Paria’s ability to procure fuel from its suppliers.

“Paria is willing to continue discussions with Unipet to achieve a solution that is both safe and in the best interest of both companies and which minimises any disruption of supply to the local market,” the statement said.

NP in a separate statement, commented on Paria's announcement that, as TT's largest service station network operator, it can provide a continuous and reliable supply of fuel across the country.

"Additionally, with an extensive service station network of over 115 stations and a supply chain that distributes fuel seven days a week, NP has the resources necessary to meet the increased demands and to ensure the reliability of the supply to all customers."

NP said drivers should maintain their normal purchasing patterns and avoid panic buying, "which will only serve to cause fuel shortages at the pump and create unnecessary traffic congestion at the service station locations.

It said it remained committed to providing a reliable and convenient supply of quality fuel.

Unipet issued a release in response to the Paria statement, but subsequently retracted it and promised a new release, which had not been sent up to press time.

Unipet, a wholly-owned locally-operated company that markets and wholesales liquid petroleum fuels, has been trading in transportation fuels since 2000 and has 24 service stations around the country.

On October 30, Unipet gas stations and stations run by the Petroleum Dealers' Association (PDA) were closed as a result of concerns by the PDA and Unipet about the existing fuel margins.

In a statement, the PDA had said the current margins placed financial limitations on dealers.

"Our expenses are greater than our income, and while we are continuously taking measures to reduce expenditure, the model itself is unsustainable."

The situation, the association continued, has reached a stage where "we can no longer pay for fuel on delivery, so we are forced to take fuel only when we have the funds to pay for it."

PDA president Robin Narayansingh had told Newsday in an interview last week he was hoping for an early Christmas gift from Finance Minister Colm Imbert of sustainable fuel margins for dealers. The PDA had met with Imbert and presented a proposal for a margin increase earlier last week. Narayansingh had said dealers remained committed to ensuring a reliable fuel supply to the public.

Unipet CEO Dexter Riley had told Newsday: "We are committed to allow that not to happen (disruption in fuel supply)."

On the issue of the margins, Riley said, "What we hope for is an economic margin which we calculated to be 20 cents per litre for every product."

The current margins are 14.5 cents wholesale and 17 cents retail (premium and super unleaded); 9.5 cents and 12 cents retail (diesel).

Riley said, "We don't want to be in a position where marginal adjustments are made and it's still not effective because it's not going to benefit anybody."

Energy Minister Franklin Khan, speaking at the launch of Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd’s corporate social responsibility early last month, spoke of the scheduled meeting with Unipet and the PDA to discuss their concerns and that the ministries of both Energy and Finance are “crunching some numbers to see if there is some veracity in their claim for an increased margin.

“When that can happen, and an analysis has been completed, we will communicate with them firmly and update them as to the Government’s position.”

Several calls to Khan's cellphone on Tuesday went unanswered.

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