What now , Petrotrin ?

Far be it for my to criticize my Trini people from afar , but sometimes I think we live in a bubble , and do not think real world events can affect us.
For example , all the talk about Petrotrin seems to be centered on politics , I see little discussion about the business aspect , which is the most important.
So we go through our usual political finger pointing exercises , without properly analyzing the situation , its causes and possible solutions.

 
But there are many questions that need to be asked :
For example , how profitable is Oil Refining in T&T ?
Importing oil to be refined is obviously not the most efficient , but the apparent reduction in local production makes it necessary.
Another question , have the refinery kept up with modern technology?
I don’t know the answer , but I worked there in the sixties , and it was old even back then.
I assume it has been modernized , but how much?
I also have the impression that , partly because of a strong union and poor management, there may have been a bit of “workfare” , which means the refinery may have been overstaffed.

 

The reality is , the refinery has to function in the real world of business.
In the late sixties ,many of us left Trini to work on building refineries in Aruba and St Croix.
These were newer , more state of the art than Trini. At that time , the (Texaco) oil refinery was already old.
Meanwhile , I know for a fact that the Hess Oil refinery in St Croix was a clean modern well run facility , since many of us worked there.

 

And yet , that Hess Oil refinery was closed in 2012 , due to losses –  a newer ,more efficient refinery than the one at Pointe a Pierre.
However the new owners of the old Hess oil refinery in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, (one that was once among the world’s largest) , plan to invest $1.4 billion (US) to refurbish and restart a portion of the plant.
If the renamed Limetree Bay refinery can be refurbished to produce the fuels in the next 18 months, it could benefit from expected lower prices for heavy crude and strong demand for its fuels, said analysts.

 

A similar investment may be done in T&T, but probably on a smaller scale with a greatly reduced workforce.
Because reduced oil production makes the profitability of oil refining a declining  proposition in T&T based on the need for imported crude, and you can’t keep spending two dollars to make one.


Cooperation between union and management over the years may have softened the blow , but the decline was inevitable , and should have been no secret to business and political leaders.

So , its not all up to the current T&T government.
Mistakes and miscalculations made over the years by management , labor and government have also contributed to the decline , not to mention falling crude oil production from the country’s oilfields.

 

And now , we have to pay the piper.

Texaco ( Petrotrin ) Apprentice class of 1962

Texaco (Petrotrin) Trade Apprentice class of 1962. That’s me , in the middle of the third row.

 

 

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