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Trinidad’s Oil Firm Quits Refining Business As Losses Mount

Trinidad and Tobago’s state oil firm Petrotrin is ending its oil refining business effective October 1, in response to hefty losses due to the cash it has been spending on crude oil imports, the country’s government said on Tuesday.

Petrotrin will cease oil refining operations at Pointe-a-Pierre, and will redesign its Exploration and Production (E&P) business in a bid to cut the losses it has amassed in recent years. The restructuring process will affect around 2,600 permanent jobs—the redesigned E&P business will employ some 800 workers and all 1,700 jobs in refining will be terminated, Petrotrin and the government say.

“Petrotrin is no longer producing enough oil to operate the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery efficiently. We are producing approximately 40,000 barrels of oil a day and the refinery operates at a capacity of 140,000 barrels a day, so we have to go to the market to buy about 100,000 barrels of oil to make up the shortfall. This results in a net loss in foreign exchange,” Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet said in the statement.

Over the past five years, Petrotrin has lost a total of about US$1.19 billion (8 billion Trinidad and Tobago dollars). The company has US$1.78 billion (12 billion TT dollars) in debt and owes the Government of Trinidad and Tobago more than US$445 million (3 billion TT dollars) in taxes and royalties.

At present, the firm needs a cash injection of US$3.7 billion (25 billion TT dollars) just to stay afloat, and even if it had that money, the company would still be losing US$297 million (2 billion TT dollars) a year.

Petrotrin will phase out refining and start importing gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and other refined products the country needs—estimated at around 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day—and will export all of its crude oil production.

The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) reacted angrily to the news, with union head Ancel Roget saying that “The proposal they have for Petrotrin is madness...we disagree with that and we reject that outright.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Joseph Rampersad on August 30 2018 said:
    When I was working for Texaco, run by the "foreigners" we were making a PROPHET of about $1,000.000 a day. Our "smart" govt. and the OWTU saying "massa day must done" (anyone born in the 50's remember that?) The Trinidad govt. buy out Texaco for $1 !!! and since then they keep LOSING $1,000.000 a day. Where is the math?
    That is what have we in this mess now. The PNM govt. and any Govt. for that matter cannot do business; why the hell did they do this? They think they smatter than a multi million dollar company who have been doing this for many many years? They should start back, drilling and allowing foreign companies to come in to Trinidad and drill if they can't, and therefore get a royalty from them. We have a "desulf" unit; could we not organize and clean the sulphur from other countries oil and make some money that way? How about selling off some of the assets that we do not use, which is very valuable. Stop spending unnecessary money on things that we cannot afford. Remember the "white elephant" near the highway, where they wanted to move the Admin building? Get "business people" involved and let them help where ever they can. This is our country, we need to keep people working to keep the economy going. We were the best in the whole Caribbean set of islands; what happen now?
  • Mitch on August 29 2018 said:
    This doesnt make sense, if they're exporting 4x the refined products that they need, which would be in USD. How do they plan to not lose money buying refined products in USD and selling it in there currency? Sounds like embezzlement, or a really inefficient refinery.

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