Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Election Primer A - Z: 'P' is for Petrotrin

Here's a perfect example of incompetence and ineptitude as it relates to the management of state resources. The state petroleum company has been long described as a loss-making enterprise in spite of its enviable position in the oil & gas equation of Trinidad & Tobago. It doesnt matter if oil prices are at record highs or lows, Petrotrin will show a loss. In recent years, I can only recall one instance where a profit was recorded (and this was under the previous UNC administration). The event was so momentous and historic that Petrotrin promptly spent much of its surplus advertising the fact and soon returned to loss making a year later.

Now, the more skeptical among us might be tempted to view the procession of annual losses in the light of the company's on-going problems with its workers and its union, the OWTU. Would it be too far a stretch to suggest that the company has deliberately declared loss after loss as means of keeping the demands of its workforce within reason? Or is this a sinister attempt on the part of the Executive (the Prime Minister and his Cabinet) to squirrel away funds for more nefarious means? As I am not a conspiracy theorist, I would prefer totake the performance on face value and place the blame as it were squarely at the feet of the management of that state-run firm.

If the annual loss making was not nearly enough to ask for four aspirin and a stiff drink, we are now faced with two other issues which individually amplify the unsutability of that company's management, and together scream for the removal of the Minister of Energy, the Cabinet and the Prime Minister.

The first is the neverending saga of a refinery upgrade that was initially budgeted to cost US$350M has now, like the stadium obliquely opposite it, suffered from the most untenable and yet to be explained cost overruns that have pushed it to US$1.3B - an increase of 271% AND COUNTING!

(See Here: )

It amazes me that a management team could be responsible for such mismanagement and not be held 'responsible'. I have no doubt that since no one has been fired and in light of the fact that there have been few reported defections and resignations, that bonuses have been paid every year to the management team as well. My outrage bubbles over!

Now added to the pot are the recent reports that Petrotrin is being sued for US$12B - That's right, BILLIONS. Or Approximately, TT$75B. Or in terms that the common man can more easily grasp: 37,500 two-million flags!

(Read Here: )

Starting to get the picture? And as if enough money hasnt already been 'wasted', now there is talk of a US$12B industrial estate project INCLUDING a spanking new state of the art refinery. What? you say? Didnt they just spend $1.3B on an upgrade of an existing refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre? More wastage and more graft to come.

(Read here:,120486.html )

Breathe deeply. Now focus your outrage and your anger. And on May 24, be sure to vote out the people who reward such stupidity and incompetence. And who continue to waste your tax dollars every day.


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