Rowley: Talks terminated with refinery bidder

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The refinery in Pointe-a-Pierre. – File photo

Talks had broken down with the lone bidder for the mothballed oil refinery, the Prime Minister disclosed, answering a question from Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee during prime minister’s questions in the House of Representatives on Friday.

Dr Rowley said, “On December 5, TPHL (Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd) on the advice of its professional international advisers, terminated all discussions with Quanten LLC.

“There have been a number of entities who have expressed an interest in exploring the restart of the refinery. TPHL will continue to assess these expressions of interest, and we are also exploring whether there is any regional interest.”

Lee asked if the refinery would go back out for bidding.

Rowley replied, “I said TPHL will continue to assess. That assessment is done in whatever way – whether it is going back out or whether it is receiving a proposal. But the door is still open for interested parties to talk to TPHL. Or we may very well go back out, but going back out does not guarantee we’ll find someone, but we’re always available and the door is open.

Lee asked if TPHL had no parties to work with now to reopen the refinery.

Rowley replied, “That’s correct, as of December 5, because the process did not deliver a usable, workable arrangement.”

He said the Government was coming out of the refinery business so the issue was not a matter of setting any date, but that someone else could enter that business.

When Lee asked if the Government would re-enter the refinery business, Rowley replied, “That’s a UNC madhouse business.”

In a new question, Lee claimed the Attorney General (Reginald Armour, SC) said a ban on scrap iron operations would end by December 31 as he asked when operations could resume.

Rowley replied, “The premise of the question is wrong. The Attorney General never said that. I’d like to clarify that the AG did not say the scrap metal ban would come to an end on December 31. That was never said by the AG.” The PM recalled the AG’s media conference of November 25.

“The AG reiterated that he gave the commitment to come back to the population in three months to give an update before the expiry of the scrap metal ban which he initially stated would last for six months. However to state that the AG stated the scrap metal ban would come to an end on December 31 would be misconstruing the words.” Rowley said Lee should know that.

The PM said, “The AG stated that he aims to shorten the period of the ban and that his office is aiming to put the Scrap Metal Bill into Parliament before the end of the year, to get it debated and voted on.

“As such no definitive date was proposed by the Honourable AG for an end to the ban.”

Lee, in a supplemental question, asked when would the industry re-open.

Rowley replied “I have no idea,” saying the Government has one AG. The PM wanted the bill passed by year-end and thanked Armour for working on it.

Later Armour introduced the Scrap Metal Bill 2022 which he moved be debated on Wednesday.

TT Scrap Iron Dealers (TTSID) head Allan Ferguson in a statement immediately welcomed the bill’s introduction, but did not address the PM’s remarks in the House.

“After almost four months of little or no operations, the TT Scrap Iron Dealers Association is happy to announce that were are seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

“It has been a long, devastating period for our members and the thousands of men and women who were severely impacted by the six-month ban on scrap metal exports.”

Glad the Government kept on its promise to bring the legislation to Parliament, Ferguson said the AG had “brought a renewed sense of hope” in these challenging times.

“TTSIDA is anxiously awaiting the debate on the new legislation and is urging the Government to ensure that once it is passed in the Parliament, the Bill is proclaimed in the shortest possible time.”

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