Trinidad moves ahead with SABIC, talks begin on methanol project

10 February 2012 19:45  [Source: ICIS news]

A methanol tankHOUSTON (ICIS)--Trinidad’s government moved closer to approving a $5.3bn (€4.0bn) methanol project proposed by Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) as more questions surfaced about the bidding process surfaced, a source said on Friday.

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine was quoted in newspapers on Friday saying that Trinidad’s Cabinet had authorised him to begin negotiating with SABIC and China’s state-owned Sinopec on a proposed methanol-to-olefins (MTO) and methanol-to-petrochemicals (MTP) project in Point Lisas.

Ramnarine was quoted in the Trinidad Guardian and Trinidad Express newspapers.

The SABIC proposal continued to prompt criticism of the bidding process, the latest coming from Keith Rowley, leader of the opposition party in Trinidad’s parliament.

Rowley told ICIS he was unaware that Sinopec was a partner in SABIC’s proposal.

“We don’t trust the government,” Rowley said. “The government needs to show us who’s involved, what they want and all the other details. We have to hold the government to account.”

Earlier this week, US Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Beatrice Wilkinson Welters, wrote a letter to the government raising concerns about the possible acceptance of the SABIC proposal over competing bids that included US companies.

Phone calls and emails to the Trinidad Energy Ministry and to SABIC were not returned.

Another criticism of SABIC’s proposal involves what one newspaper editorial called a “a massive subsidy” from the government on the price of natural gas for the plants.

Rowley said he was not opposed to the SABIC project, only to the way the government had conducted the bidding process.

“We are not opposed to companies coming in and getting a piece of the action,” Rowley said. “But we want everything to be done in a transparent and above-board fashion.”

($1 = €0.75)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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