THE UNPRECEDENTED shutdown of the Petrotrin Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit, or cat cracker, for 16 months has resulted in a cost of about $2 billion, according to Opposition Senator Terrence Deyalsingh.
He was speaking during debate on the 2012/13 budget in the Upper House in Parliament at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
He reported that the cat cracker was shut down in April 2011 for a 100-day period of repairs.
He recalled that then energy minister, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, promised in June 2011 that it would be ready in a week.
A cat cracker is a "unit in an oil refinery in which mineral oils with high boiling points are converted to fuels".
Current Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, in response, said he was advised by the Petrotrin leadership that the cat cracker would resume operations by next month and there had been a "number of constraints and challenges", including accidents. Deyalsingh said never before in the history of this country has it been down for so long a time.
Deyalsingh said from his investigations the cost per day of the cat cracker being down including importation of gas and diesel, penalty clauses, construction and ancillary costs was about US$600,000 per day, which was US $18 million per month and for 16 months was TT$2 billion.
"And the silence is ear splitting," he commented.
He questioned how Government could justify this "incompetence" and the cost to taxpayers.
Continuing on energy, he questioned what was Government's policy on energy and criticised the falling through of the Ghana energy deal, including the Prime Minister not meeting with the visiting Ghanaian energy minister.
Deyalsingh also chided Government on "flip-flopping" on the Caribbean Court of Justice and not making it this country's final Court of Appeal. He noted that the rent for the CCJ at Henry Street was $468,974.60 per month, $5.6 million per year.
He said total cost from 2004 was $339 million from the Consolidated Fund.
He also raised concerns about two Boeing 767s that had been leased by Caribbean Airlines and whether GPS systems were installed and whether adjustments had been made by Boeing following the post-manufacture modifications and the ground crew informed about the specifications.
Deyalsingh also claimed Government was "suppressing" crime and unemployment statistics and called for an independent Central Statistical Office. He also criticised Government for shutting down the national music band Divine Echoes because it was a PNM initiative.