Predicting an exponential increase in fuel prices at the pumps if government succeeded in selling the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union president general Ancel Roget is calling on all citizens to join with the OWTU to stop the government from selling T&T's prized national oil assets.
Calling for a boycott of the PNM starting yesterday, Roget said after 100 years in the oil and gas industry, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was now taking T&T backward to the days of colonialism by ending its refinery operations only to import fuel for domestic consumption.
Addressing hundreds of workers at Beaumont Hill, Pointe-a-Pierre, Roget said under the new restructuring plan, T&T's crude oil will be exported as raw material and local consumers will have to import the finished product at exorbitant prices similar to the days of slavery.
"Who will supply us with fuel?" Roget asked and someone in the crowd shouted "Venezuela."
"If that country faces a natural disaster or political civil unrest or economic mayhem, we will be at their mercy and they could cripple our economy! Is the government thinking about that?" Roget asked as the crowds applauded.
Accusing the PNM government of betraying the citizenry, Rowley said the OWTU will resist any attempt to sell Petrotrin's assets. He said during a meeting with the Petrotrin Board on Tuesday morning, three proposals were outlined to the union, all of which were rejected.
The first option was to leave Petrotrin as it is; the second was to downsize the entire Exploration/Production and Refining operations and the third was to shut down the refinery, send home all workers and rehire a workforce of 1,000 people.
Roget said Petrotrin currently employs 3,500 permanent workers. Out of the 1,000 to be rehired, Roget said the company plans to rehire 800 for the Exploration and Production fields and 200 for turn-milling operations which will replace the refinery.
Asked what will happen to the existing refinery, Roget said there was the suspicion that all 33 functional plants of the refinery will be sold in a fire sale to a company who is hiding behind the scenes and directing the government to betray the people of T&T.
Saying the PNM will face a terrible political backlash, Roget said the motoring public had every reason to be worried, adding that consumers may end up paying international prices for fuel in the near future.
This, he said will cause mayhem in T&T.
"We have seen the heartless intentions of Dr Rowley to unleash a type of hardship that this country has never seen before," Roget said.
Told that Petrotrin said it was not selling the refinery, Roget said, "We do not trust the Petrotrin Board or the government."
He said since 2011, the OWTU submitted a proposal to Petrotrin to turn around the fortunes of the floundering company by setting up four divisions - Land: North and East (LNE), Trinmar Offshore Operations, Exploration and Production and the Augustus Long Hospital.
He said each entity will be held accountable for boosting crude oil; the production which will reduce the existing crude importation for the refinery.
Roget said under this plan without any further drilling activity an increase of 5,000 barrels per day would have been achieved and once there was a full reactivation of Southwest fields, a further 3,000 barrels per day would have been achieved.
He added that on April 3, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed with the Petrotrin Board to implement the OWTU proposal but behind the workers' backs, the company decided to shut down the refinery and send home workers.
He revealed that 100,000 barrels of oil per day is imported to run the refinery while production levels are at 40,000 barrels of oil per day.
He added that a meeting will be held with the company on Monday to further discuss proposals, adding that Petrotrin will save $2 billion is the refinery operations were shut down.
Roget also warned that the Petrotrin Board has already canceled orders for crude oil imports in a bid to ramp down operations at the refinery so even though it asked for a meeting with the OWTU, it seems the death of the refinery was already a done deal.
Roget advised the workers to blank the PNM by not attending its meetings and fetes.
He said anyone who supports the PNM was showing no self-respect for themselves or their country. He also warned that the OWTU will be utilizing several strategies to ensure that the PNM government does not send T&T into a tailspin by shutting down Petrotrin.
- by Radhica De Silva