Two Plants To Close

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has described as “bad news for the energy sector,” the decision by Methanol Holdings Trinidad Limited (MHTL) to shut down two of its five methanol plants at the Plipdeco estate and offer VSEP to the affected workers.

The decision was announced during a March 3 meeting between workers and the operator, Industrial Plant Services Ltd. The shutdown comes as the Point Lisas-based company is faced with the problem of a gas shortage.

MHTL is the second company located at Plipdeco which reported a shortage in gas. The first company faced with the problem was Caribbean Ispat, which also ended operations here one year ago.

Commenting on the news, Ramnarine said it was unfortunate the National Gas Company Ltd could not come to an agreement with MHTL.

In emailed response, he said: “My understanding is that MHTL put forward a number of commercial proposals which were not accepted by the NGC. It’s very disappointing that this has happened, since methanol prices are very good at this time. It’s also likely that the gas supply situation will improve at the end of 2017 and into 2018.”

Weighing in on initiatives such as the Dragon Field in Venezuela, he said, “The Venezuela/Dragon deal is fraught with political risk. I saw one gentleman say we will get gas from Venezuela in 2019. I’m happy if that happens but it seems overly optimistic.”

While MHTL has not announced how much staff will be affected, Ramnarine said it was unfortunate workers would lose jobs as a result of the shut down.

Overall, Ramnarine questioned why the Poten and Partners Gas Master plan has not been implemented and called for its implementation. Critical of the decision-making process within the energy sector, Ramnarine said the pace has clearly slowed.