The US Embassy in Port of Spain acknowledged last Thursday that it is supporting Quanten LLC, the US company that was selected as the preferred bidder to acquire or lease the Pointe-à-Pierre oil refinery.
The Embassy was asked to respond to Energy Minister Stuart Young’s comments in a Facebook post last week on Sunday.
In an article titled “UNC Destructive Mischief,” Young said, “With respect to Quanten LLC and the false allegations made by UNC opposition in relation to this entity, Quanten LLC is an American company that is engaged in the RFP process for the refinery.
“Various branches of the United States government have communicated with me, as Secretary of Energy and Power Industries, regarding Quanten LLC, indicating its (Quanten’s) interest in the refinery bidding process. and there has been support for the company as being a US-based entity.
The energy secretary did not specify which branches of the US government communicated with him about Quanten LLC. He also did not expand on his comments when asked to do so by a Trinidad Express reporter.
Based on the Minister’s comments, the US Embassy was asked to identify the various branches of the US government that communicated with Young about Quanten’s interest in the refinery. The embassy was also asked about the nature of the US government’s support for Quanten?
In response, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said, “One of the most important roles of U.S. embassies around the world is to support U.S. businesses seeking international business opportunities. . American companies are the most successful in the world when they can compete in global markets where the playing field is clear and level playing field.
“American businesses must meet strict anti-corruption, labor and environmental standards, delivering the best value and the best results for consumers, taxpayers and businesses. Please contact the company directly for any other inquiries.
Young said the procurement process was carefully managed by fully state-owned Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL), the parent company of Guaracara Refining Company Ltd, which owns the refinery.
He said that TPHL is assisted in managing the procurement process by its advisors, including international experts and that the company reports on the progress of the process to the Ministries of Finance and Energy.
The Pointe-à-Pierre refinery ceased operations on November 30, 2018.
In a statement to Parliament on September 20, 2019, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said: “The refinery was plagued by high and growing debt, low levels of productivity, labor costs increasing and a pattern of expenses usually exceeding its profits and revenues. . The refinery lost billions of dollars each year.
In this statement, Imbert outlined the first request for proposals (RFP) process for the sale of the refinery.
This first sales process attracted 77 responses, 25 companies choosing to sign non-disclosure agreements and eight companies submitting non-binding offers.
The preferred bidder in the first sale process, which involved both the refinery and Paria Fuel Trading Company, was Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company, which was created by the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU).
Patriotic’s preferred offer included an upfront payment of US$700 million for the refinery assets.
Imbert told Parliament that the Cabinet had agreed to Patriotic being given a three-year moratorium on all principal and interest payments for the purchase of the refinery and a further ten years at a fair interest rate from the market to complete the payment of the sum of US$700. million he offered for the refinery.
Although the OWTU-owned company submitted two proposals and obtained an extension to secure funding for the acquisition, its proposal was not accepted by Cabinet.