Espinet: No fuel shortage after refinery closure

Petrotrin chair­man Wil­fred Es­pinet is as­sur­ing there are ad­e­quate fu­el sup­plies to meet the needs of the pop­u­la­tion and there is no need to pan­ic. The Petrotrin re­fin­ery, he said, will con­tin­ue to pro­duce for some time yet and in ad­di­tion, he said short-term arrange­ments will be en­tered in­to to en­sure con­ti­nu­ity in sup­plies.

Speak­ing to the T&T Guardian on the is­sue yes­ter­day, Es­pinet as­sured there is no mad scram­ble to find a sup­pli­er for fu­el when the Petrotrin re­fin­ery is shut down.

He said, “We have 42 sup­pli­ers to Petrotrin, we have nar­rowed it down to 13. We have gone out to them to do it on a short-term arrange­ment while we con­tin­ue to de­vel­op a longer term re­la­tion­ship, so there is no ques­tion about sup­ply.”

On Wednes­day, En­er­gy Min­is­ter Franklin Khan told Par­lia­ment that there will be a 20-day fu­el sup­ply from the date of the clo­sure of the re­fin­ery.

“The re­fin­ery will be closed on a phased ba­sis dur­ing the month of Oc­to­ber. Up­on its clo­sure there will be a twen­ty day sup­ply of fu­els from stock to start with,” Khan said.

Khan sought to as­sure there will be no dis­rup­tion in sup­ply, adding steps were be­ing put in place for the im­por­ta­tion of sup­plies from in­ter­na­tion­al traders.

“Re­quests for pro­pos­als from 13 rep­utable in­ter­na­tion­al sup­pli­ers are cur­rent­ly out, we don’t fore­cast any dis­rup­tion in the sup­ply to the trav­el­ling pub­lic,” Khan said.

Yes­ter­day, Es­pinet said the 20-day sup­ply will be twice what the com­pa­ny nor­mal­ly has in stock.

“So for in­for­ma­tion pur­pos­es, there will be dou­ble the sup­ply that is nor­mal in the mar­ket. Petrotrin nor­mal­ly keeps a ten-day sup­ply, so we are step­ping it up to twen­ty days,” he said.

Es­pinet said it is not new for Petrotrin to be im­port­ing fu­el.

“Let me make it clear to you, Petrotrin has in the past im­port­ed fu­el in­to the coun­try sev­er­al times and that hap­pens when you have a prob­lem with the plant and can­not meet sup­ply.”

He al­so said there is ready ac­cess to fu­el.

“Every sin­gle de­tail has been worked out on this al­ready, so don’t go scar­ing the peo­ple. The scare-mon­ger­ing is not worth it.”

Es­pinet al­so as­sured that “there is no mad scram­ble, there is no need to be con­cerned, there are ad­e­quate stocks on hand.”

He said al­though the tran­si­tion be­gins on Oc­to­ber first the re­fin­ery will still be pro­duc­ing fu­el, “and even if there is a dis­rup­tion we have things in place to cov­er dis­rup­tions.”

En­er­gy Ex­pert An­tho­ny Paul al­so told the T&T Guardian there is no need to wor­ry about the 20-day fu­el sup­ply. “Twen­ty days is a num­ber, you could have a tanker come in and bring prod­uct. So if you have enough stor­age you can have a tanker com­ing and fill­ing every 15 days or so. That is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a prob­lem.”

In any event, he said Petrotrin will con­tin­ue to pro­duce fu­el for some time.

“So they have two to three months to put con­tracts in place for the sup­ply of prod­uct and en­sure that sup­plies are topped up, I am not wor­ried about that.”

His con­cern, he said, is the pro­cure­ment process.

“Who gets the li­cence? Li­cens­ing is where the over­sight comes in. Un­der the law, these sup­pli­ers are meant to be li­cenced.”

How­ev­er, he said the Min­istry of En­er­gy does not have a li­cens­ing regime.

“It is no­to­ri­ous in not li­cens­ing any­body.”

Paul said while the Pub­lic Pro­cure­ment Act is not yet ful­ly pro­claimed and im­ple­ment­ed “I wor­ry at how the pro­cure­ment rules tend to be ig­nored by the Gov­ern­ment. The Cen­tral Ten­ders’ Board Act still ap­plies.”

Pe­tro­le­um deal­ers are ex­pect­ed to meet to­day to dis­cuss is­sues which arise with the clo­sure of the re­fin­ery and the im­por­ta­tion of fu­el.

Cur­rent­ly, deal­ers get 17 cents on every litre of su­per gaso­line sold and 14 cents on diesel and reg­u­lar gaso­line. They are un­cer­tain whether their mar­gins will change when the coun­try starts im­port­ing fu­el.

Speak­ing to the T&T Guardian, Pe­tro­le­um Deal­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ra­bindranath Narayns­ingh said, “The in­dus­try is con­trolled by the Min­istry of En­er­gy. The Min­is­ter, in con­sul­ta­tion with the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, has the sole pre­rog­a­tive to set the price.”

Up to yes­ter­day, he said there had been no dis­cus­sion with the deal­ers on any of the is­sues which need to be ad­dressed.

Narayns­ingh said af­ter the deal­ers meet they will speak with the me­dia on some ideas they have and some of the con­cerns which need to be ad­dressed.

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