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OWTU warns against WGTL sale

Published: 
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
OWTU president Ancel Roget, second from right, addresses members of the media during a press conference at the union’s headquarters in San Fernando yesterday. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATH

Officials of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) warned yesterday that reports of Petrotrin finalising the sale of its failed World Gas to Liquid (WGTL) plant to NiQuan Energy Trinidad Limited could threaten the progress of working on restructuring the State-owned energy company.

At a media conference at the union’s headquarters at Paramount Building in San Fernando, OWTU raised the issue of an agreement “shrouded in secrecy” just one week after signing a memorandum of agreement to work on the energy company’s future.

OWTU president Ancel Roget said the union got word that Corporation Sole is leading negotiations with Niquan Energy Trinidad Limited for the sale of the WGTL plant at the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery. He said this validates their claims that Government wants to sell out Petrotrin’s assets.

OWTU was supposed to evaluate Petrotrin’s operations and assets to make recommendations on the restructuring.

Roget is calling on Government to explain how the sale of assets would benefit Petrotrin and citizens.

Niquan Energy Trinidad Ltd. a subsidiary of the Niquan Energy LLC, based in Washington, US, finalised a sale and purchase agreement in 2015 with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), receiver of the plant.

Niquan has contracted Black & Veatch, a Kansas based global engineering, procurement and construction company and Oklahoma based Emerging Fuels Technology to assist with implementation of its gas to liquids (GTL) projects.

The company stated on its website: “Upon the commencement of commercial operations, we anticipate having up to 65 high-value permanent positions. In addition, our project is an essential part of further developing the Trinidad and Tobago gas-based industry.

“The project will be another first as the only commercial-scale GTL plant, of this size operating in the Western Hemisphere, a clear demonstration of the country’s technical and operational experience in the global energy business.”

Petrotrin officials have so far not commented on the OWTU’s claims.

ABOUT THE WGTL PROJECT

In 2005, Petrotrin entered an agreement with World Gas to Liquids Inc for construction of a plant which would have seen the State company holding a 49 per cent share. The agreement between both parties was that WGTL would bring the GTL plant, technology, finance and project management while Petrotrin would contribute sufficient gas reserves to assure the it’s operation.

Construction started in 2007 but ran into several cost overruns and it was stopped in 2010. In 2011, World GTL Inc and World GTL St Lucia Ltd sued Petrotrin for damages in excess of US 200 million for breaches of fiduciary duties. Petrotrin filed a counter-claim of breach of contract by WGTL Inc.

In April 2014, the London Court of International Arbitration dismissed WGTL’s claim and ordered the company to bear the costs of arbitration and pay Petrotrin’s legal costs.

The court found that the project was plagued by poor management and project technology.

In 2009, Petrotrin acquired the debt for the WGTL project and appointed PwC as receiver. In 2012, PWC issued a request For proposals for an exclusive arrangement for sale of the plant. Niquan Energy made an offer in October 2014 which was accepted by PWC after consultation with Petrotrin.

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