Even though strike notice has been served on State-owned Petrotrin and a warning sounded that workers would walk out the gates on Monday, there has been no panic rush for fuel at service stations.
Petroleum Dealers' Association of T&T president Rabindranath Naraynsingh said yesterday there were no reports of gas shortages at the 134 service stations across the country.
Naraynsingh however admitted there were expressions of concern by motorists, as well as gas station owners.
“Obviously, they are naturally worried about what is going to be happening. We are being told that the strike comes into effect on Monday. The motorists and dealers are concerned, they are worried. We are just waiting and watching,” he said.
Naraynsingh appealed to the Energy Minister to make a pronouncement on the issue as it was the ministry that regulated the petroleum industry.
“The ministry needs to say what they expect of us and how they would like us to perform. We need the ministry to state clear objectives. They will give guidance as to how we should act should a strike and gas shortage befall all of us,” he said.
Confidence in contingency plan
According to Naraynsingh, National Petroleum (NP) purchases 800,000 gallons of gasoline and 800,000 gallons of diesel monthly from Petrotrin. That supply, he said, is distributed to gas stations throughout the country.
“Some gas stations would take less, some will take more, but the purchases from Petrotrin approximates 800,000 gallons of gasoline per month and 800,000 gallons of diesel. The gas stations would take according to their storage facility. That supply is repeated every month,” he said.
Naraynsingh said a shutdown of the oil company was ill-advised at this time because of the country's economic situation. And he appealed to all parties to find a resolution to the industrial relations impasse.
But should workers undertake a 90-day strike action, Naraynsingh said he was certain a contingency plan was in place.
“I am sure the Government and NP would have a contingency plan, and the Petroleum Dealers Association is waiting instructions from the Ministry of Energy; they are the leaders, they are the regulators and they will guide us as to what are the contingency plans, how to move forward should rationing become necessary,” he said.