ENERGY Minister Franklin Khan on Monday criticised the Petroleum Dealers Co-operative Society Ltd (PDC) for using the covid19 pandemic as a threat in commercial negotiations with the National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd (NPMC). Khan also gave the assurance that the PDC's action will not impact the supply of gasoline to the public. "No, no. Not at all."
He said the PDC should not be confused with the Petroleum Dealers Association (PDA). Khan said the PDC only controls two to three gas stations but has the monopoly on the supply of lubricants to NPMC. Khan said the agreement for the PDC to supply lubricants to NPMC has expired and NPMC has provided a new agreement for the PDC to sign.
While the PDC has issues with the new agreement, Khan criticised the group for using covid19 to put NPMC's back to the wall during negotiations for a commercial arrangement.
"That is untenable."
He appealed to the PDC to desist from this course of action.
In a statement, NPMC said the PDC is not to be confused with its retail service station network. NPMC confirmed Khan's statement that PDC is a lubricant distributor and "distributes NP’s brand of ULTRA Lubricants to NP Service Stations and retail outlets."
While describing the PDC's action as unfortunate, NPMC said it "presents no threat to fuel shortages or to the security of the supply of fuel as NP has contingency measures in place to ensure a consistent and reliable supply of fuel to the public."
NPMC said negotiations for a new contract with the PDC began before the pandemic. But NPMC said it appeared the PDC "believes this process should be extended for a 90-day period." NPMC said it was unfortunate the PDC is using the pandemic to cloud the real issue which is "its unwillingness to enter the new distribution contract."
NPMC said the price increase alluded to by the PDC "was rescinded in hindsight, owing to the drop in the international oil prices." The company added that lines of communication remain open for discussion with the PDC on a new contract.
Petroleum Dealers Association (PDA) president Robin Narayansingh said some members of the PDA are members of the PDC. Narayansingh also said the PDC's action will not affect the supply of gasoline to the public.
Unipet CEO Dexter Riley said the action by the PDC does not affect its gas stations and they continue to operate, with measures to prevent the spread of covid. These include sanitation, personal protection equipment and other methods to protect employees, customers and visitors from exposure to contagions.
This story was originally published with the title "Gas supplies not threatened as PDC suspends operations" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
The decision of the Petroleum Dealers Co-operative Society (PDC) Ltd to temporarily suspend its operations because of the covid19 pandemic, will not affect the supply of gasoline to the public. Petroleum Dealers Association (PDA) president Robin Narayansingh made this comment in reference to a statement issued by the PDC.
PDC employees are responsible for the sale of liquid products (engine oil, brake fluid etc) at gas stations. Members of the PDA are also members of the PDC. In its statement, the PDC said it decided to temporarily suspend its business operations to minimise the risk of exposure to covid19.
Narayansingh said the PDC has 3,000 workers employed at 150 gas stations throughout TT. Due to concerns about the workers' safety because of the pandemic, Narayansingh said the workers were paid their monthly salaries and advised to stay away from work for one month. He added the PDA wait to see if the Energy Ministry gives any instructions regarding the operation of gas stations during the pandemic.
In a statement, the National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd (NPMC) said it continues to ensure the continuous and reliable supply of liquid fuels, aviation fuel, cooking, gas and lubricants to the local market. NPMC said under its agreement with the franchisees/service stations dealers, it offers payment terms as a matter of policy.
NPMC said it is reviewing these payment terms and will be guided by its policy, with "due consideration due to each franchisee/dealer's unique circumstances (within set parameters)."
The PDC said during the pandemic, the NPMC first response to workers at gas stations and convenience stores was to provide them with gloves.
The PDC subsequently said NPMC ended a contract to lubricant distributors and replace existing distributors with new ones, while instituting a six per cent price increase to the public. The PDC claimed the new contract was presented to distributors after business hours on March 20.