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Petrotrin suffers loss for 2013

...oil spills just add to it

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

STATE-OWNED oil company Petrotrin will make a loss for its 2013 financial year, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said yesterday.

Ramnarine said Petrotrin was scheduled to make the loss even before the series of oil spills affecting Trinidad’s southwestern peninsula since December.

He made the statements during yesterday’s post-Cabinet news briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair.

“In 2013 (Petrotrin) will make a loss and this was before the oil spill,” Ramnarine said.

Ramnarine said the expected loss, which he described as being “marginal”, was “driven mainly by the economic performance of the refinery” at Petrotrin.

He said there has been a “literal collapse in the refinery margin” because the United States market has been flooded with shale gas and shale oil.

“The company is in a very serious financial situation, it is a situation we don’t see going away anytime soon so even before the spill there was that very delicate situation,” Ramnarine said.

“I have asked the company to break their accounts into upstream exploration and production and refining and marketing so we can see the two halves of the company and how they perform separately.”

He said the upstream exploration and production aspect of Petrotrin by itself is very profitable and has been subsidising refining and marketing.

To date Petrotrin has spent $10 million to $11 million on the oil spill with the bill expected to climb higher.

By next week’s Cabinet meeting a note is to be provided recommending a “sector wide facilities audit”, Ramnarine said.

He is also expected to approach National Security Minister Gary Griffith for the establishment of a security strategy for the wider energy sector.

“It cannot be business as usual for the energy sector in Trinidad and Tobago, it cannot be business as usual at Petrotrin. They have now to step their game up,” Ramnarine said.

Ramnarine yesterday defended the use of dispersant Corexit 9500 in the clean-up of the oil spills, saying it was “one of the less intrusive” products on the market and not banned in the United States and the United Kingdom as was recently reported.

The use of dispersant Corexit 9500 during the clean-up operation being conducted by Petrotrin has been criticised because of an alleged ban of the product in several countries including the United States.

Ramnarine dismissed those concerns when questioned.

“Have you seen information that (Corexit 9500) is banned in the UK? I have been to the website of the UK Maritime Management Organisation and it is not banned in the (United Kingdom) by that organisation which is a government organisation. I have also been to the website of the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and it is also there on the list of approved chemicals,” Ramnarine said.

Ramnarine said there are many dispersants on the market and Corexit 9500 was “one of the less intrusive”.

He said the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan specifies how it must be used.

Ramnarine said he has also written the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) on the issue.

He slammed concerns as being based on information posted on online encyclopedia Wikipedia 

“I saw that on Wikipedia myself and I don’t site Wikipedia,” Ramnarine said.

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