The quality of NP fuel is fine.
That was the assurance yesterday from National Petroleum Marketing Company chairman Sahid Hosein who said NP’s fuel is tested every day before the company issues it to service stations.
“So concerns about quality are unfounded. I assure the motoring public, very stringent measures are undertaken before fuel is taken to stations to be sold,” Hosein told Parliament’s Public Accounts Enterprises Committee (PAEC)
The PAEC was examining NP’s accounts. PAEC chairman Wade Mark quizzed Hosein on NP fuel quality. Hosein said he’d heard of concerns via the media and while some may be real, he felt it was “a lot of fearmongering in the public”.
When fuel comes to NP’s Sea Lots port, samples are taken before NP takes custody of the fuel, Hosein explained. Tests are done in a first-class lab certified by Cariri.” This is to ensure it meets specifications. After, it’s offloaded into our tanks. Every day we test the fuel before sending it out,” he said.
On quality complaints, Hosein said, for example, someone buying $90 worth of fuel who’s now paying $160, maybe doing so really due to the recent price increase, “But I’m not sure the increase even warrants this.”
On the implications of the Petrotrin restructuring for NP’s costs and fuel supply, Hosein said NP had had certain protocols in dealing with Petrotrin.
“While that hasn’t changed significantly, we’re not absolutely certain how the landscape will unfold or evolve. We had certain arrangements and leeway in terms of payment to Petrotrin. At this point, we’re not sure how those requirements will continue or whether they’ll evolve and what challenges they may pose for us if there are going to be changed.”
He said the impact may mainly be of a financial nature. “From what we’ve seen so far, the arrangements of the past will continue in the future,” he said.
For instance, NP will continue buying jet fuel from the restructured Petrotrin.
On safety concerns since NP’s located in a “hotspot” near Beetham/Sea Lots, CEO Bernard Mitchell confirmed that a $400,000 security camera system installed two years ago with TSTT—expected to do the monitoring—had gaps. NP is now in a closer relationship with TSTT which is repairing cameras. A video wall being installed will be monitored by an officer in NP and other resources have been hired, he assured.
PAEC member Fitzgerald Hinds, noting security deficiencies in an NP-internal audit report, said an examination of state enterprises have revealed a culture of “Is dem own, not we own” and personnel don’t exert efforts to get the state sector from low to high. He said serious safety measures are needed in today’s world.
NP’s Nicole King (Human Resources) said 60 per cent of gaps in the report were addressed, additional resourcing provided and NP’s security plan and operating procedures were reviewed. By March, all issues would have been successfully addressed. NP also has National Security assistance.
Mitchell said a 2011 wage negotiation matter, now in the Industrial Court, is expected to be concluded by March. Two other negotiations will follow.
He targeted a $35 million profit this year, but extraneous items—pensions, etc, must be factored in before the true picture emerges. He said NP has a 75 per cent market share, but there has been a decline in volumes by four or five points as people drive more conservatively and since the construction sector was hit in the economic downturn. The $1 Super gas increase from the 2019 Budget plumped NP’s revenue, but there was also volume decrease.
However, NP has no debt. Mitchell said NP’s revenue and cost management is “an active issue”. NP has “quite a few” investment properties which are leased at $60,000 monthly and which will rise to $100,000 by next September. Other business investments are also being examined including joint ventures outside of T&T—but borrowing may be needed.
Mitchell said NP’s most intense competition is for the lubricant market. He noted other products weren’t given the duties/taxes they should get—but he projected increased market share. NP sells manufactured lubricants to CARICOM and in order to make a profit exporting must continue.
Reporter: Gail Alexander