ENERGY Minister Franklin Khan said Government is dealing with the Patriotic board in its negotiations for the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and not the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU).
In a media release Friday he responded to several newspaper reports in which OWTU Ancel Roget "attempted to rebut the Honourable Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament regarding a slight delay in the negotiations with Patriotic Energy and Technologies Company Limited, strongly implying that the Honourable Prime Minister was not speaking the truth." Roget had said the company has not sought any time extension in its negotiations to buy the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and the company has long been ready to inspect the refinery but has been delayed by having to wait for the Energy Ministry's nod.
Khan in his response recounted a number of facts on the negotiations. He pointed out on September 30, 2019, Patriotic Energy and Technologies Company, was chosen by the Government as the preferred bidder for the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery. Patriotic Energy and Technologies Company is a private limited liability company registered under the Company’s Act and Government deals with Patriotic Energy’s board of directors and not the OWTU.
"It is instructive to note that Mr. Roget is not a member of the board of directors."
In October 2019, the Finance Ministry of Finance gave Patriotic one month to respond to ten issues that the Government had concerns about.
"These issues were successfully addressed by Patriotic within the required time frame."
He said at a meeting on January 15 the Cabinet Sub-Committee appointed to deal with this matter together with members of the evaluation team and technocrats from the Energy Ministry met with Patriotic Energies.
"At that meeting the company indicated that they wanted to do a detailed due diligence and inspection of the refinery amongst other things, before it can proceed further with the negotiations."
By letter dated January 17 Patriotic Energies wrote to the Government outlining in detail its request for a due diligence review. The attachment to the letter entitled “Document Request List” outlined some 250 specific requests in various categories, not only pertaining to the refinery inspection and included areas of finance, contracts, labour and employee relations, license and permits, and environmental liability.
"This letter and its attachment clearly indicate that Patriotic requested significant additional information on the refinery."
Khan said in the interim Government has set up various teams of subject matter experts in the various disciplines to meet with Patriotic Energies and the refinery inspection should begin next week.
He added the Hansard record will show that the Prime Minister said: “So there is some element of delay involved, but we cannot go faster than Patriotic Energies is prepared to go and the evaluation committee has to have something to evaluate. So if Patriotic Energies has asked for additional information in this expert review of the plant, that is, the first part of the process.” Khan said the records will clearly show that Patriotic Energies requested a significant amount of additional information.
"The Government is committed to continue the negotiations and discussions with Patriotic Energies in good faith for the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We are quite confident that an amicable conclusion would be reached."