Consumers in Grenada and other parts of the English-speaking Caribbean can expect to see an increase in the price of petrol products due to the recent decision of the Trinidad & Tobago government to close the state-owned, Petrotrin.
This was announced by Minister of Energy, Gregory Bowen at last Friday’s sitting of Parliament at Mt. Wheldale, St. George after attending a Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee meeting in Barbados on the closure of Petrotrin.
Bowen told Parliament that some regional countries have already started a hunt to get an alternative supplier of Petrol as the decision of the Keith Rowley government in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago to close Petrotrin has left the region in a state of emergency to fill the void as that company supply 70% of the Petrol products in the region.
He said that suppliers like Sol are now looking to import petrol from outside the region which would then mean longer shipping periods, more handling costs and an increase in prices to consumers.
He disclosed that a decision was taken at the Barbados meeting to remove the Common External Tariff (CET) to allow petrol suppliers to source petrol from outside of the region.
He said that the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee has agreed on the move at the meeting in which Trinidad and Tobago was present.
“All the (Caricom) heads will be written to immediately so that it will be recommended to them and … Trinidad has already said they’re not objecting because they cannot supply…”, he told fellow legislators.
“We’re looking regionally, we’re looking extra-regionally and we are looking at not only one of the local suppliers but both of them and any other client that will be accessible…”, he said.
According to Minister Bowen, CARICOM has decided to go it together in the search for an alternative to purchase petroleum products because in buying in bulk “we can reduce whatever extra cost there is”.
Bowen noted that Venezuela, which is currently facing domestic political and economic crisis cannot be considered at the moment as a prospective alternative for the English-speaking Caribbean.
He said: “The Department of Energy is working together with those who already supply in Grenada and looking at new sources of suppliers Mr. Speaker. So, although we are not comfortable, we believe collectively CARICOM will be able to solve it and we are in a state Mr. Speaker where we cannot look towards Venezuela.
“As a matter of fact, Petro Caribe lost their contract for supplying diesel to GRENLEC on a competitive bid because of the high cost of transporting the diesel fuel from Guyana to Grenada. So, at least our electrical plant is out of that particular problem. However, they are purchasing from Sol and Sol now will have to look extra the region.
So, you see the implication, Mr. Speaker, not only in Grenada and not only for the price to the local consumer to transportation but also the price to the energy company.
It’s situations like this Mr. Speaker where all the costs will be passed on to the consumer – we need to come to an arrangement where everyone would take part of this cost and bear the burden Mr. Speaker.