Imbert: No restart date for Niquan plant yet

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: The NiQuan plant in Pointe-a-Pierre.

THERE is no date for the restart of the Niquan plant in Pointe-a-Pierre, no date for the start of the Paria Commission of Enquiry (CoE) and no agreement for the acquisition of former state oil company Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Acting prime minister Colm Imbert gave these responses to respective questions from the Opposition on these issues in the House of Representatives on Monday.

He said on April 14, Niquan was given approval by the Energy Ministry “for reintroduction of natural gas to the facility.”

This was for the primary purpose of lighting the flare pilot burners and producing medium pressure steam, using the auxiliary boilers for cleaning lines after the plant’s shutdown after an explosion there last April.

Imbert said the ministry gave approval on June 3 “for the introduction of fuel gas only for the reformer burners for conducting refractory dry out.”

Niquan wrote the ministry on June 3 for permission to start commissioning activities at the plant.

Once the ministry gives approval, Imbert said it could take one month for those activities to be completed.

“Approval for commencing entry of process gas has not yet been granted by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries.”

In response to questions from Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee about consultations with residents about the plant’s start up, Imbert said, “Not being a psychic or a seer man, in local parlance, it was not possible to anticipate that the member (Lee) would ask about the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).”

He reiterated, “They (Niquan) are testing the facility.”

Imbert was certain there would be proper communication with nearby communities regarding the plant’s full restart.

On the Paria CoE, Imbert reminded MPs of the statement he made on this matter in the House on May 23.

He reiterated that after the procedural hearing stage of the inquiry is concluded, an announcement will be made by the commissioners as to the proposed commencement date of the evidential stage of the inquiry.

The CoE’s procedural hearing is scheduled for August.

There is also nothing to announce on the sale or lease of Petrotrin’s former refinery.

Imbert reiterated,”Of the three final bids received for the sale or lease of the refinery, a preferred bidder has been identified.

Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL), Petrotrin’s successor company, and its advisors are involved in final due diligence conversations and continued negotiations with this bidder.

“Upon the satisfactory completion of these conversations and discussions, an official letter of award will be issued to the preferred bidder.”

Imbert expected this process to be completed this month.

“Once a formal letter of award has been issued, we will be in a position to officially, publicly announce the identity of the preferred bidder and the nature of their bid.”

He declined to make any further comment on the matter.

“I prefer not to say anything more at this stage because negotiations are continuing.