Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 7th 2016 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt APRIL 7 • 2016
Energy Minister Nicole
Olivierre has said there is
no time better than now
to remove the fuel subsidy
since oil prices are low and,
even with that, the Gov-
ernment just does not have the resources
to continue supporting the subsidy.
In an interview with the Business
Guardian, the Energy Minister said the
country should have found itself in a posi-
tion where many people had already
crossed over to CNG and there should have
been a proper mass transit system in place
before the subsidy was removed but the
country lost five years in the process.
"The challenge we have had with CNG
is that sufficient service stations have not
been built at different parts of the country
to support a massive move to CNG. The
former PNM government had plans in
place to move the country to CNG but,
for whatever reasons, we lost five years
and we are now in this situation.
"What we need to do is to continue the
building of service stations that have CNG
and also ensure we have a mass transit of
public transportation system to reduce
people s use of private vehicles."
Asked if it was fair in those circumstances
for the driving population to contend with
higher fuel prices even though it was the
Government that failed to put in place the
required infrastructure to encourage the
move to CNG, the minister said there was
"The fact of the matter is that the quan-
tum of the subsidy has reduced as the oil
prices are low at this time and the country
can barely afford to maintain the subsidy."
Finance Minister Colm Imbert recently
told a media conference that he intended
to remove the fuel subsidy and will send
a clear signal when he presents his mid-
year budget review to the Parliament
"I intend to start the discussion with
the statement I will be making to Parlia-
ment on April 8. I intend to start the ball
rolling in terms of telling the country what
the Government has in mind in terms of
the way we are going to be dealing with
the fuel subsidy and the timing of the
phasing out of the fuel subsidy but I did
say that on October 5 (during the 2016
budget presentation) that is the plan but
we have to talk to the population first,"
Imbert told the news conference.
Minister Imbert said the country would
be asked to consider whether to continue
the subsidy or let the price go up and down
like virtually every other country.
T&T has been spending billions of dollars
every year on keeping the price of fuel low
and, for some time, successive governments
have raised issue about the fuel subsidy
and whether this is the best use of the
country s resources.
"Obviously if it s done now the effect
on the population will be much less that
if you do it when oil is US$100."
Economist Dr Hosein admitted to being
in favour of the removal of the fuel subsidy,
arguing that in a recession "there is a need
for economic adjustment." He added that
the country cannot afford to continue sup-
porting gas and diesel prices. But, at the
same time, he warned that in an effort to
reduce the inflationary pressure caused by
higher fuel cost, the Government will have
to ensure there is a proper public trans-
"I think the removal of the subsidy can
act as a good signaling effect to the pop-
ulation that we are in a new normal but
to ease any associated inflationary out-
comes, it is important that the State man-
ages the transitionary period and, in parallel,
improves the complimentary modes of
"During a recession---and overall period
of stagnation---there is a need for economic
adjustment and, as this becomes a neces-
sity, there are clear losers and clear winners.
The challenge is to minimise the extent of
loss of those on the receiving end."
The Energy Minister said NGC CNG---
the company formed to roll out the CNG
plan---will continue to pursue its mandate
to try and move the average motorist from
liquid fuels of CNG
An audit by the Ministry of Energy
and Energy Industries into the asset
integrity management of companies
in the energy sector has revealed
that all, but one of the state enter-
prises, have been given a failing
In all, 30 companies were audited and, of those
companies, six were state companies and only Phoenix
Park Gas Processors received a passing grade. The
National Gas Company, the National Petroleum Mar-
keting Company and Petrotrin which was treated as
three different assets and land production, marine
production and refining all failed to get the minimum
pass of two out of four.
The study was conducted by Det Norske Veritas
(Norway)) and Germanischer Lloyd, DNV GL.
The latter is an international certification body and
classification society with main expertise in technical
assessment, advisory, and risk management. It was
created in 2013 as a result of a merger between the
two leading organisation.
It is the world s largest technical consultancy to
onshore and offshore wind, wave, tidal, and solar
industries, as well as the global oil and gas industry
with 65 per cent of the world s offshore pipelines are
designed and installed to DNV GL s technical stan-
In an interview on Tuesday with the Business
Guardian the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries,
Nicole Olivierre, confirmed the findings and said the
information will be shared with the companies this
She indicated that the results showed that " there
were as many companies that fell below the pass mark
as there were operating above the minimum levels."
The minister said it was necessary that the country s
energy sector improves its asset integrity and man-
"You would have seen recently that there has been
a number of oil spills in my constituency and this goes
directly to the integrity of the assets in the energy
sector as well as the asset management. So it s not
just the fiscal assets that we have problems with but
also with the management systems---either in place or
not in place."
An asset integrity management systems (AIMS) out-
lines the ability of an asset to perform its required
function effectively and efficiently whilst protecting
health, safety and the environment as the means of
ensuring that the people, systems, processes, and
resources that deliver integrity are in place, in use and
will perform when required over the whole lifecycle of
An integrity management system should address the
quality at every stage of the asset life cycle, from the
design of new facilities to maintenance management
to decommissioning. Inspections, auditing/assurance
and overall quality processes are just some of the tools
designed to make an integrity management system
The Minister explained that the average score of the
30 companies was two but that was so because many
of the companies fell below and above the average.
She said this was a clear indication that the industry
has to work harder to improve their asset integrity and
noted that the consultants have presented a 16-point
plan which she felt confident, if followed, would help
companies move to a higher level of asset integrity
management and facilitate an appropriate plan of action.
The country s largest natural gas supplier---bpTT---
embarked on a number of asset integrity upgrade over
the last five years and that has been partly responsible
for the natural gas curtailment which the country suf-
fered as the company did maintenance work.
The upgrade was prompted by the Macondo disaster,
which killed several workers and led to one of the worst
oil spills in the US history.
fall short on asset
subsidy too costly
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