Petrotrin Settles Debts, Fights Sabotage

(Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, Carla Bridglal, 1.Dec.2018) — Termination and other exit payments owed to Petrotrin’s workers as part of a $2.7 billion compensation settlement have finally started appearing in bank accounts and will continue to be processed throughout the weekend.

The disbursement of funds began on Friday – also the final day of operations at the 101-year-old Pointe-a-Pierre refinery. In a release yesterday, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd, the newly formed holding company that will manage the assets of a deconstructed Petrotrin, said commercial banks expect the transfers to be completed by Monday, when all workers should have their funds in their accounts.

The payments are part of the company’s $1.8 billion in termination packages, $201 million for outstanding vacation, $560 million in backpay, $150 million for medical and other benefits and $55 million in payments for outstanding promotions.

All 3,400 permanent employees received exit payments and 1,229 or 55 per cent of the company’s temporary workers received ex gratia payments.

The company claimed that since $2.7 billion was “unprecedented” it took longer than anticipated to process.

In a second release yesterday, Trinidad Petroleum, said it had been “forced to suspend all access to its facilities by non-essential personnel following several incidents of vandalism, sabotage and obstruction by union members and other workers” on Friday.

The damage and destruction included vandalism to mobile oil field equipment, a fire tender, state property and privately owned vehicles.

The company said the closure was “critical to ensure the safety and well-being of all legitimate personnel and to protect and preserve valuable state assets.”

With immediate effect, only people with valid identification, specific company passes, and who are listed for access will be allowed into to the company’s facilities, no exceptions.

Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd, established to take over Petrotrin’s exploration and production business, also sent out a release yesterday, its first official day, to say it was investigating “acts of sabotage” on one of its lines in Grand Reviere, Rancho Quemado on Friday. A 2.7-inch flow line was visibly severed and about five barrels of oil spilled. The spill was contained in an area of about 20 feet and there was no environmental damage. The line has since been repaired and about 80 per cent of the oil recovered. The company said it was working with the authorities and plans to ensure those responsible are prosecuted.

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