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Refinery assets to be sold after shutdown—Espinet

Published: 
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet points to a chart during yesterday’s press conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. Photo by:NICOLE DRAYTON

Some portions of Petrotrin’s refinery will be sold and other parts will be absorbed into the new structure.

Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet yesterday confirmed that once the refinery is completely shut down at the end of the year, some of the structure could be dismantled and offered for sale.

“Some of the existing structure will be absorbed and used by the ongoing operations and some will be sold to companies that require those assets,” Espinet said in a short interview with the T&T Guardian after a media conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Espinet and three members of the executive—Nigel Edwards, Lisa Ali and Reynold Ajodhasingh —held the conference to clarify much of the information in the public domain.

Espinet fielded questions from the media for almost an hour but rehashed most of what has already been disseminated since it was announced that the refinery would be shut down. He grew agitated when the media seemed to focus on the total number of people who will lose their jobs.

“This is the last time I’ll answer a numbers question,” Espinet said.

He was referring to the changing figures of people affected by the shutdown of the refinery. Since the shutdown was announced, Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union boss Ancel Roget has maintained that all 3,400 workers would be sent home, but that figure changed in the reporting as various people commented on the closure of the refinery. On Monday, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said the figure was close to 4,600.

Yesterday, however, Espinet said Government would get its information from the board, so Khan’s figure was accurate.

“I want to say to all of the media this is the last question I’ll be answering about the number of employees. The number thing has been playing (in the media)...at the union meeting we made it abundantly clear that the intention was always to send everyone home,” Espinet said.

He admitted there was limited information coming out of Petrotrin, contrasted by the deluge of information in the public domain.

“We have to be mindful of the sensitivities of certain things and how that might work with our various stakeholders,” he said.

One of the more alarming revelations Espinet made was that the number of casual and temporary workers could change with every shift.

He said it was nearly impossible to give an accurate number of casual workers until the salaries were being prepared, adding there was a pool of casual workers who could be added to a work shift without any notification to management. He said it was allowed to happen because of strong worker representation and by successive complicit governments.

“If you ask me today how many employees we have in Petrotrin I couldn’t tell you, because that is a number that keeps moving in the temporary workforce on a daily basis,” he said.

“What is it that I am not saying that I should be saying?”

However, Espinet also said he did not have the “authority or the ambition” to correct information coming from the Government.

“Would you feel comfortable if I take full responsibility, which I do. The number which has been stated wrongly by anyone I take full responsibility for that,” he said.

At the end of August 2018, Petrotrin’s full-time staff stood at 3,400 and there were 1,417 casual workers on the roster.

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