– as Government closes oil refineryWith the closure of its oil refinery Petrotrin, all eyes in Trinidad and Tobago are on Guyana for assistance, as thousands are now said to be on the breadline.Former Prime Minister and current Opposition Leader of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, believes her country should attempt to partner with Guyana as oil production here is set to begin in 2020.Persad-Bissessar has said she hopes good sense will prevail with Dr Keith Rowley, the current Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.“I understand Guyana has found another well and they are producing. Can we notFormer Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessargroup in some way, and find a way to work together as a Caricom (sister state), where we can help them refine their oil?” she asked.Persad-Bissessar has said that even if Guyana moves to build its own refinery in the future, the Petrotrin facility can still be used in the initial years of oil production in the South American country, where production is set to begin by 2020.“Of course they will build their own refinery; but we have one, and many (of) the units in the refinery at Petrotrin are new, so a lot of money has been invested on the refinery side, and now they are shutting it down. It is total nonsense!” she was quoted by the Trinidad Newsday newspaper as saying.It was only recently reported that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy cooperation between Guyana and Trinidad is expected to be signed in the coming weeks.Sections of the media reported that Trinidad and Tobago’s Energy Minister, Franklin Khan, confirmed this. While he did not go into details of the agreement, he said that would be disclosed after the signing.Khan said TT is willing to provide assistance to the Guyana Government as the country prepares for first oil.Since 2016, discussions commenced between Guyana and Trinidad on an MoUExxonMobil oil rigunder which TT would provide various forms of support to the oil and gas sector in Guyana.Initiated during a visit here in 2016 by a Trinidad and Tobago delegation led by then Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre, the MoU was expected to be signed at the end of that year, but that did not happen.At the time, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had said the pact would see Guyana receiving support in a range of areas, including advanced technical training for local personnel in the industry.Unconfirmed reports suggest that TT is seeking to get the Guyana Government to take a stake in the Petrotrin refinery, and in this way acquire a strategic asset.The proposal is to ensure that Guyana gets its share of oil from ExxonMobil closer to home, and in this way employment would be provided to people of both countries.Earlier this week, Petrotrin’s board confirmed plans to close the company’s refinery in October in a move which will cause the loss of 1,700 permanent jobs.But OWTU president general Ancel Roget has called on Government to rescind the decision and call an election, or “face chaos.”But Khan said, “Roget represents a trade union that seeks to represent workers as it sees fit. T&T’s based on law and order, and any action they take, once legal, isOne of Trinidad’s oil refineriesacceptable. But if it’s illegal, the state would have to act.“So no – we’re not rescinding the decision,” Khan confirmed.On Roget’s insistence that he wasn’t told of the closure at a recent meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Khan said, “Yes, he was told. I was at the meeting. The meeting’s minutes will show the Prime Minister indicated in no uncertain terms to Roget that Petrotrin will be getting out of the refining business. As to why (Roget) didn’t communicate that (to OWTU) at that point in time, that’s his call; not mine.”On termination benefits for workers, Khan said, “All the costs are being worked out as we speak. A lot of milling through of numbers has to be done. We’ll be offering an early retirement plan for people over 55, pay them off and they’ll have their full pension. Then we’ll have an exit package — I don’t want to call it severance — for younger workers. That formula is still being worked out.“But the (termination benefit) figure will be huge – significantly more than a billion dollars – since the base salary of Petrotrin is big. Any calculation will be based on base salary.”While refinery workers don’t command the highest salaries, and theirs is on par with the company’s Exploration/ Production sector’s wages, the refinery has the largest overtime costs, he added. But overtime wouldn’t come into play in termination benefits.