Energy Minister Franklin Khan says plans are being worked on to “soften the effects” of the closure of the refinery at state-owned Petrotrin and is assuring the workers being exited will be given “very attractive packages.” Khan is also insisting Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union president general Ancel Roget was told in “no uncertain terms” by the Prime Minister that the refinery would be closed when the two met last week. Speaking on CNC3’s Morning Brew yesterday, Khan said, “I was in the meeting and the answer to that is a resounding yes. He was told in no uncertain terms by the Prime Minister that the refinery will be shutting down.” Khan said the Government could not tell Roget what to do when asked if Roget was told not to inform his membership of the planned shutdown. Khan, who has responsibility for Petrotrin, said the Government “is not kicking the can down the road”. “We know the consequences of some of the decisions have some far-reaching consequences and we are working on a plan to soften the effects and to make sure the population knows that we are not an uncaring Government,” Khan said. Khan said they were aware 2,000 workers would be directly affected but he assured workers who are between 50 and 55 will get early retirement “with full pension and that is a gift” and the other workers will get “very attractive packages.” Khan did not want to get into the details of specific figures, saying those were still being worked out but assured “nobody will be leaving Petrotrin hand to mouth, they will have serious benefits, especially those who are on early retirement and those who are not will have a significant cash outlay so that they can search for other investments and look for other professions and jobs.” He said the country had struggled for decades to keep the refinery alive but he said “the data showed there was absolutely no hope for this refinery to survive profitably as presently constructed and configured. It was causing serious haemorrhage into the cash flow.” The money saved from the “haemorrhaging”, Khan said, will be better spent on other parts of the economy to assist the very people who will be displaced. He admitted that the closure of the refinery will negatively impact Marabella, Claxton Bay, Vistabella and parts of San Fernando, but said Government was committed to assisting those communities affected and things are being put in place. Khan said the refinery will be transformed into a terminal facility, a new business model, where Petrotrin will be importing finished product in bulk and redistributing to the Caribbean and to the local market. He said bunkering will be proposed “because there is a lot of storage capacity and port facilities in Point-a-Pierre, it is just the processing plant that will be shut down.” Sourcing the petroleum products for the local and Caribbean markets would not be an issue, Khan said, since they are internationally traded items. Khan believes there will still be a profitable business at Point-a-Pierre but not at the scale the refinery was in terms of employment and generating spin-off economic activity. He said the cash coming out of the restructured company will have two functions “a component to repay debt, because we are loaded in debt and the rest will be reinvested in Exploration and Production. When you invest you win more oil and when you win oil you make more money.” Khan said he was of the view that had money which was invested in the refinery over the years been directed at Trinmar, “we would have been laughing to the bank today, but those decisions were taken and what has happened has happened and these are the consequences of these actions we face today.” He said the new Exploration and Production “will look like a fit for purpose, nimble and independent energy company” which will bring “new life” to communities on the South West Peninsula, Fyzabad, Point Fortin, Guapo, Palo Seco and Santa Flora.