(Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, Sean Douglas, 7.Jun.2019) — The refined oil imported by Paria Fuel Trading Company for local consumption after the closure of the Petrotrin refinery does not include oil produced by Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA, Energy Minister Franklin Khan told the Senate on Thursday.
Opposition Senator Wade Mark had asked that if TT imported fuels from PDVSA’s retail company CITGO, how might TT be affected by US sanctions against the Venezuelan companies.
Khan replied that Mark’s question was based on a false premises, saying, “CITGO is currently not a supplier, nor is it a potential supplier of refined products to TT.”
Mark claimed that on October 13, 2018, a ship named High Mars collected refined products from Charles Lake in Louisiana bound for Port of Spain and arrived at the Pointe-a-Pierre jetty on October 23, 2018. “Is the minister aware of such a shipment?”
Senate President Christine Kangaloo stepped in to disallow the question.
Mark tried again. “May I further ask the minister whether he is aware that CITGO was able to supply refined products which were loaded on a vessel called High Mars that brought those refined products to TT in October last year. The minister has denied there is any relationship between CITGO and the Government and the particular company that brings in refined product. Can the minister clarify that?” Kangaloo disallowed the question.
Mark rose again, to challenge Khan to categorically tell the Senate no relationship exists between CITGO and Paria.
A third time, Kangaloo disallowed the question. Mark vowed to raise the matter in a future motion on the adjournment.
In a separate question, Mark asked if Paria was overpaying for imports of refined fuel from BP.
Khan replied that it is the norm to pay a premium of three to five per cent above the referenced market price, due to commercial terms and reliability of supply. He flatly denied Mark’s assertion that TT was buying fuel at a price that was one third higher than the world market price.
“This is dangerous misinformation, as was the first question,” Khan said.
He added that the last cargo BP had delivered to TT was February 13, their bid in the Government’s request for proposals having won against competitive rival bids. Khan could not disclose the price paid as this would jeopardise the free market system of buying oil. When Mark asked if Paria would never again buy oil from BP, Khan said he did not say that but rather their four-month contract to supply had now expired and other bidders had won the new contracts.
“BP could win again, but it is a competitive environment.”