Petrotrin closure hits Barbados

Barbados Minister of Energy, Wilfred Abrahams.
Photo by George Alleyne

The planned phasing out of the refinery of the Trinidad and Tobago-owned state oil company, Petrotrin, has sent the Barbados government scurrying to locate another supplier of gasoline.

This island through the government corporation, Barbados National Oil Company Ltd (BNOCL), currently imports gasoline from, and sells in a barter arrangement its locally extracted crude oil to, the Petrotrin Refinery.

But Trinidad’s government recently announced a phased closure of the refinery starting Oct. 1, owing to increasingly unprofitable returns on its crude refining operations.

Petrotrin was incorporated in 1993 as an amalgamation of two companies with a history reaching back to the early part of the 20th Century.

A Barbados Government Information Services statement Wednesday indicated that at the time of the Trinidad government announcement, “the Government of Barbados was exporting annually 260,000 barrels of crude oil to Petrotrin and importing 60,000 barrels of gasoline on a monthly basis from this refinery.

“The annual contract with Petrotrin entailed the exchange of the crude oil for gasoline, which aided in the reduction of the foreign exchange cost, as the value of the crude offset the outlay for the gasoline.”

At the time of the Barbados government statement BNOCL had enough gasoline, 53,582 barrels, to last the island 25 days.

“Another shipment of 30,000 barrels is expected from Petrotrin on the weekend of Sept. 15, which will provide inventory for about 38 days’ supply. BNOCL will receive its final shipment of 30,000 to 35,000 barrels from Petrotrin during the period Sept. 24 to 28, and along with the previous shipments, will be sufficient to supply local consumption requirements until Nov. 5 at a usage rate of 2000 barrels a day,” BGIS stated.

Barbados government obtains the island’s diesel and fuel oil from sources outside the Caribbean region. Kerosene for jet fuel is imported by private oil dealership companies, Sol and Rubis.

Barbados’ Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, led by Wilfred Abrahams, indicated that it, “is keeping ahead of the situation to ensure that despite the closure of the Petrotrin Refinery, there will be no shortage of gasoline in Barbados.”

Ministry officials along with those of BNOCL are now in discussion with several suppliers with a view to employing a similar arrangement to that with Petrotrin.

“The goal is to ensure that this country has a consistent supply of gasoline at an affordable price, while securing a market for Barbados’ crude oil.”

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