Close to 80 employees of Shell Trinidad Limited will soon be on the breadline. News of the layoffs was reported by Guardian Media Ltd’s television outlet, CNC3, after a memo sent out to staff on Tuesday by Luis Prado, country chairman.
Prado wrote: “For a number of years, we have implemented many measures to try to improve and sustain the plant’s ability to be more competitive in the Caribbean lubricants market. However, after doing a significant regional portfolio review, we have made the difficult decision to close the Point Lisas plant.”
Prado said the decision will affect 50 Shell employees and about 30 contractors. He said the plant will cease operations in June and will be sold as an industrial facility.
“The supply of Shell lubricants will come from other locations in the region and we will continue with our macro-distribution model here,” he said.
The job cuts at Shell Trinidad were announced just days after parent company Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which finalised a $70 billion mega-merger with BG Group on February 15, said it was cutting 10,000 jobs across its global operations.
However, Prado said there was no link between the two developments: “I understand this may raise concerns, given its timing, so I would like to assure you that this is a strategic regional portfolio decision that was independent of the global Shell-BG combination.”
The jobs cuts are the latest to affect T&T’s energy sector which is suffering fall out from declining oil and gas prices. In recent weeks retrenchments have also been announced by bpTT and Repsol. Shell has operated the lubricants facility at Point Lisas since 1993. The plant, with state-of-the-art technology, has a capacity of 42 million litres a year.
Base oils are brought in and mixed with additives and the resulting lubricants are exported, with 90 per cent going to Caribbean markets.
The company also owns an interest in the Atlantic LNG as a non-operating partner. Its subsidiary Shell Global Solutions provides technical services to the state-owned energy company Petrotrin.
Royal Dutch Shell has embarked on job cuts across its operations to reduce costs amid the severe drop in oil prices. The company cut operating costs by US$4 billion last year and expects further reductions of US$3 billion in 2016.