Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Senator: Petrotrin silent on US$2.5b shutdown

OPPOSITION Senator Terrence Deyalsingh has questioned why it has taken close to two years to get Petrotrin’s fluid catalytic cracking unit back up and running, with a net loss to date of US$2.5 billion.

He was contributing to a Senate debate on a motion by Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds, calling on the Government to reaffirm its commitment to democracy on Tuesday, at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.

He said the project was determined “ready to go” by the People’s Partnership administration in April 2011, with a projected contract time of four months.

He noted in June 2011, there was a promise of start-up in September 2011, and then in February 2012 that it would be completed in one month.

He also recalled in October 2012, in response to his queries during the national budget debate, both Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine and Finance Minister Larry Howai gave a tentative date of November or December 2012.

He said it was close to two years after the original shutdown.

He also asked Ramnarine and Petrotrin about the “silence” on the project and the cause for the delay.

Ramnarine responded, saying they had some “serious challenges” in getting the cat cracker completed.

He noted the main challenge was that the original contractors had been dismissed.

He said that mechanically, the cat cracker was complete and they were awaiting a supply of steam to start operations.

Deyalsingh said he heard other reasons, including: welding could not be done because of rain, accidents, industrial action, as well as the firing of the contractor.

He said because the cat cracker was down for two years, the country had reverted to an outmoded mode of development by buying feedstock abroad.

He said Ramnarine needed to make “more than that statement” and described the Petrotrin board as “incompetent and inefficient” and one that had “mucked up the project”.