ENERGY Minister Franklin Khan on Tuesday said three independent investigations are under way into the recent explosion at a fuel tank at the Sea Lots compound of NP, replying to an urgent question in the Senate by Opposition Senator Wade Mark. Khan said three men had been hospitalised after the December 11 explosion, since when two have since been discharged while one remains warded.
Khan told the Senate such an incident was not acceptable and so independent investigations have been ordered.
These will be done respectively by the Ministry of Energy, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency and NP. He said the reports will reveal what had gone wrong and what remedial measures can be pt in place to prevent any recurrence. “All reports will be made available to the public,” Khan promised.
Khan later answered a listed question by Mark as to what steps can be taken to return the National Gas Company (NGC) to a state of profitability.
He said falling prices had squeezed NGC’s profitability from a margin of 22 per cent to seven per cent. Covid19 had had a further impact, by depressing the prices of petrochemical products such as methanol, Khan added.
Given NGC’s role to buy gas from upstream gas-producers and sell it to downstream users, Mark asked if the producers were selling gas to the NGC at (high) uncompetitive prices. Saying TT as a price-taker was at the mercy of the market, Khan said he hoped the global economy would bounce back soon, which was why the covid19 vaccine was so important.
He said meanwhile efforts were under way to make the NGC as efficient as possible to improve its profitability. Pressed by Opposition Senator Anil Roberts, Khan said profitability was not so much reliant on NGC’s upstream cost price but its downstream selling price. He said he hoped the economy picks up, even as he explained the cost of upstream production was rising owing to smaller gas fields being exploited.