Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rowley should ask questions at energy forum

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine yesterday said Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley should attend next week’s energy conference at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, where he can question energy officials on whether he (Ramnarine) should be dismissed from office.

Rowley yesterday called for Ramnarine’s dismissal in the wake of the oil spill debacle.

“Dr Rowley should attend the energy conference on Monday... and ask the leadership of the energy sector what are their views on the performance of the energy minister,” said Ramnarine in a telephone interview with the Express.

Ramnarine said while Rowley was free to comment on any matter “under the sun”, he owes this country an explanation as to why he, as a member of the energy standing committee under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) administration, remained silent on a number of projects that proved to be a disaster for Petrotrin.

“I’d like to hear what he has to say about the debacle of the World GTL project which happened under the nose of the PNM and cost Petrotrin $3 billion, or the Gasoline Optimisation Programme which started off at US$350 million and escalated to US$1.5 billion,” said Ramnarine.

Ramnarine noted for the period 2003 to 2010 there were only seven turnarounds at the Point-a-Pierre refinery, and in the last three years under this Government, Petrotrin conducted 14 major turnarounds.

“He (Rowley) should also comment on why the PNM deliberately run Trinmar down, and the information coming to me was that there was a conspiracy to sell Trinmar to some PNM financier. We have done no such thing. We have been investing in Trinmar,” he added.

“This Government that I am a part of inherited a Petrotrin riddled with debt, assets run down, little or no maintenance, failed projects, and it has been a herculean task to turn the company around,” said Ram­narine.

Rowley, he added, should also answer why the PNM never made moves to update the national oil contingency plan, which the People’s Partnership did.

“The Minister of Energy holds a very important portfolio in the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and I don’t have the luxury of being wild, reckless and intemperate,” said Ramnarine.

He further said he has not seen the reports Rowley referred to yesterday and neither does he know the source of the Opposition Leader’s information.

“I have to, as minister and as a leader in Trinidad and Tobago, first assimilate all the facts and I have to hear all sides of the story before making any conclusions,” said Ramnarine.

“I serve in the Cabinet at the pleasure of the Prime Minister and I will continue to serve in the Cabinet as long as the Prime Minister reposes her confidence in me to so do,” he said.

Ramnarine said the Energy Ministry and Petrotrin have successfully cleaned up the beaches at La Brea and all investigations into the oil spills were ongoing by the police, Petrotrin and the Cabinet-appointed committee to look into the matter.