Point a Pierre Refinery, Trinidad and Tobago

On 8 August 2000 The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Basdeo Panday officially opened the recently refurbished Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

The refinery upgrade took seven years to be completed. The owner company is Petrotrin, a state run oil exploration and refining company which purchased the refinery from Texaco Trinidad Inc. in 1985.

PETROTRIN

Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, Petrotrin, was incorporated in January 1993 to take over and operate the petroleum producing, refining, marketing and other selected assets of two State-owned enterprises. Petrotrin's principal activities are to explore for, produce, refine, market and trade in petroleum and petroleum products.

MARKET RATIONALE

The Pointe-a-Pierre refinery in South Trinidad, the only one left in the country since the closure of the smaller Point Fortin refinery, partly to make way for Atlantic LNG, is groping its way to viability after large sums of money were lavished on it.

The upgrade to the refinery is part of the integrated operations of the state-owned Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Petrotrin). This exercise was completed in 1998. The money needed for the investment was borrowed from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) by the government, which lent on the funds to Petrotrin at a premium of three percentage points at a time when the company was still losing money hand over fist.

Without the revamp, the refinery would eventually have had to be mothballed, the fate suffered by the Point Fortin unit. The investment saved Pointe-a-Pierre by bringing down its unit production costs and increasing its income. The upgrade boosted the refinery's ability to produce higher-value products, such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to 63% of the barrel, while reducing the low-value fuel oil content to 37%.

The main incentive behind the move to invest in the project was to ensure that the refinery can stay in business profitably by increasing the volume of higher-valued petroleum products it can produce.

Both the government and Petrotrin examined the refinery carefully.

The company also brought in consultants from the Houston and Calgary offices of Purvin and Gertz to do a detailed technical and economic study. The Institute for Investment Decisions (IID) in Washington, D. C. looked at the financial implications.

PLANT PRODUCTION AND COST

The project required an investment, which was valued to be in the region of $355 million. The total investment was funded by the Inter American Development Bank and a consortium of international banks.

The upgrading included the restoration of two idle process units, the revamp of a catalytic cracker, installation of four new processing units, instrument modernisation, the upgrade of environmental facilities, and rehabilitation of the idle No. 2 Catalytic Reforming unit.

The company has discontinued the use of some of its refinery installations at Pointe a Pierre and the process of removing some of these units from the industrial sites is under way. The company is now selling about 500 acres for other industrial development.

During peak construction 1,900 workers, including 40 foreigners, were employed on the project. Between now and 2003, 16 exploration wells are to be drilled in five to six onshore and near-offshore blocks.

LEAD CONTRACTORS

The private contractors teaming up with Petrotrin, include Cometra Energy (Canada), (the Central Block), Canada's Trans Dominion Energy and Anglo-African Energy, from the US, (South West Peninsula Block), Venture Production, of Aberdeen (Brighton Marine/Guapo Bay Block) and Tracmac Energy Resources, part of the local Neal and Massy group (Moruga West Block). The company will also be partnering with yet more companies, however these are yet to be announced.

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