PM defends move to sell Petrotrin refinery

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Rowley –

The Prime Minister has defended the government’s move to sell the mothballed Petrotrin refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre after the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) head slammed recent talks with an Indian investor.

Speaking to supporters at the People’s National Movement sports and family day at Skinner Park on June 23, Dr Rowley responded to comments by OWTU president Ancel Roget during Labour Day celebrations last week.

“I hear one union leader singing calypso and in his calypso tent sending word for me to say that the government will not be allowed to dispose of the refinery without his and his friends’ permission.

“I want to tell him today when you own your own refinery, the government wouldn’t interfere with it. But the refinery that is owned by the people of Trinidad and Tobago, until you are in the government or the Prime Minister, go and sing your calypso to your friends elsewhere and stop talking stupidness,” Rowley said. On June 18, Rowley met with Jindal Steel and Power Ltd chairman Naveen Jindal at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

A release said the meeting was a result of Rowley’s visit to India last month, when he met several business leaders and invited them to explore investment opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago. But during the rally at Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad on June 19, Roget said the OWTU would not stand idly by and allow anyone to take over the refinery.​

JTUM president Ancel Roget –

“Foreign businessman or not, whoever you may be, we must be part in going forward in the operation of that refinery.” Since the refinery was closed in 2018, the government has been seeking buyers. It declined the two proposals OWTU’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies made to buy it in 2018 and 2021.

Over the years the Government has said various parties have been interested in the refinery.

Rowley announced on June 23 that a special committee will be formed within a month to evaluate the offers “of those who think they could run the refinery and have the means to convince us that they are a good fit.

“I expect that by the end of August, the government will be able to say to you, ‘Yes we have a taker,’ or, ‘No, we have no taker.’

“That would have nothing to do with these mischievous troublemakers who believe they could talk any nonsense anytime and the government would just sit back and take it. “Speaking at a conference on May 6, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young said the government was optimistic about selling the refinery, as a potential buyer is getting closer to closing a deal.