Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 1st 2017 Contents viewpoint A21
Monday, May 1, 2017 guardian.co.tt
'Oil in the tank is money in the bank'
During this period of low oil prices,
Petrotrin continues to make headlines
for all the wrong reasons. The latest
being an oil spill.
Whether one barrel/55 us gallons
or 100,000 barrels are spilled, a spill
is a spill. An oil spill is the release of
a liquid petroleum into the environ-
ment, especially marine areas, due
to human activity and is a form of
The term is applied to marine oil
spills where oil is released into the
ocean or coastal waters. Oil spills can
also occur on land.
I know the dreaded radio transmis-
sion very well, ''Chopper to alpha plat-
form, large sheen around platform.''
The next communication is a not-so-
friendly call from Huston.
Bad news sure travels fast. Verbal
abuse is like that.
When told there is a spill, I reply I
know I saw, but what are you doing to
Petrotrin has been a challenge
under PNM, NAR and UNC adminis-
trations. The government of the day
cannot be held accountable.
Unique case isn't it?
When Roget talk the truth every-
body vex. He is trade union leader not
a Radio 97 deejay. How do you expect
him to speak?
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea
appear to be very aware of what is
transpiring. Let us not cry over spilt
oil, let us clean up.
Oil spills have long term environ-
mental effects so prevention is better
Oil in the tank (not the environ-
ment) is money in the bank.
OWTU once more to blame
And then there comes along a
contributor who holds the OWTU
responsible for the oil leak and states
without reservation that the union
is the cause of all the problems at
Amazingly, the union has been
raising the issue of the failure of the
company's management to put in
place preventative measures and
contingency plans and bringing to
the public's attention the continuing
failure of the management to take
any proactive steps. But in the eyes of
some people the union is the cause of
all the problems in the company.
The usual platitudes are being trot-
ted out to avoid facing the truth, that
is, the management is just simply
incompetent. Steps have been taken
to deal with the leak, only a small
amount of oil has actually reached
the Gulf and containment measures
have been successful. Except that the
boats, birds and fishermen have a dif-
ferent story to tell. The impact on the
environment is incalculable because
Petrotrin is not prepared to tell the
nation the truth.
The only time that these problems
will be properly addressed is when
the country comes to the realisation
that the problem lies with the man-
agement not the union.
T&T can build our
own fast ferry
Within the present day melee that
is surrounding our sea bridge, there
is much talk of buying new ferry ves-
sels. Herein lies an opportunity that is
being handed to us on a platter. Many
times our economic gurus have spo-
ken of getting Trinidad and Tobago
into the boat-building business as a
means to create high value employ-
ment and produce a high value export
It is my considered opinion that in-
stead of going to the Chinese, British
or New Zealanders to buy and import
a vessel, we should hire the expertise
from abroad and use local talent to
build our own. This would be the first
step in our strategic plan to become
world players as ship builders.
The geographics, infrastructure,
energy, talent and skilled labour are all
already here. Hence, the investment
to diversify and re-tool should be rela-
Once successful, T&T can offer sim-
ilar products to our own coast guard,
and then to our Caricom neighbours.
With an impeccable reputation of
quality and on-schedule delivered
products we can start to compete to
supply vessels on the international
market within the next decade.
We built the giant and complex
Juniper Oil Rig, why can't we build our
own fast ferry?
Nicholas J Williams,
Even if the price of oil were to get to $70 it
will not save Petrotrin from its inevitable de-
mise in the not too distant future. Their payroll
is three to four times higher than it needs to
be to stay competitive. No investor is going to
invest in Petrotrin with this industrial climate
of over staffing, very low productivity and aged
assets requiring huge capital expenditure.
It will be interesting to see what the team
will come up with to save the company.
The team needs to identify departments
that are overstaffed and underperforming
and not providing value to Petrotrin and the
taxpayers of T&T who continue to subsidise
If, after the team hands in their report at
the end of December, 2017, the Government
makes decisions to streamline the company for
it to be profitable, expect the union to march
and protest daily, as Petrotrin is their cash cow
and the status quo, ie no staff cuts etc, must
It is imperative that wages be contained and
brought to realistic levels. Management should
ensure production targets are achieved with
the specific goal of identifying any weaknesses
in the system.
Not business as usual with Petrotrin
Pelicans drenched in oil near the mouth of the Guaracara River in Point-a-Pierre, following a leak at Petrotrin's
storage facilities, last week. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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