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‘Threat to stability of Saint Lucia fuel prices lies in Trinidad & Tobago, not Venezuela!’

By VOICE reporter

A MAJOR petroleum importer and supplier here has suggested that the United States ‘may have scored an own goal’ – in effect shooting itself in the foot — by imposing oil sanctions on Venezuela. But the real threat to Saint Lucia, he points out, is in Trinidad & Tobago — and not Venezuela.

In an interview with the online news source St Lucia Times, former President of the Saint Lucia Petroleum Dealers Association Evaristus Jn Marie drew attention to the fact that any increase in the oil price in the US market can affect Saint Lucia, but not directly due to the major political crisis in Venezuela.

The local dealer, whose dealership is associated with Rubis on the John Compton Highway, said: “In many ways it is sort of an own goal for the United States to place an embargo on Venezuelan oil products.”

The dealer, who was also earlier associated with the regional supplier SOL, said sanctions imposed by the United States “are expected to severely hit an already battered Venezuela economy.”

But, Jn Marie also pointed out, “the United States is Venezuela’s largest crude importer, ahead of India and China.”

According to reports, new measures announced by the US limit transactions between American companies and the Venezuela state oil company, PDSVA.

However, the local dealer pointed out that “41 percent of Venezuela’s exports are destined for the US market, so that any disruption is likely to cause a supply issue and cause the price of oil to spike and by extension, the price of petroleum products, to go up in the United States.”

Before the petroleum dealer spoke, National Public Radio (NPR) reported in the US on January 30 that oil prices had increased by more than 2 percent after the U.S. imposed sanctions on PSDVA.

However, Jn Marie expressed the view that there would be “no immediate direct impact on the price of fuel in Saint Lucia from the crisis in Venezuela,” since this country’s supplies of petroleum products come out of Petrotrin in Trinidad and Tobago.

“However,” he also added, “in a world that is so interconnected, these things do have implications far beyond the immediate points of influence,” Jn Marie explained.

“The problem for us here is this: “Since October 2018, Petrotrin has stopped refining finished products for the region. In fact, they are totally out of commission and have been importing their products from the United States,” he observed.

“So, it means that any increase in the price of oil and the associated final products that go up to the US will have implications for Trinidad — and have implications for us in Saint Lucia and all other Caribbean states importing from Trinidad & Tobago,” according to Jn Marie.

“Although the consequences are not direct, but they eventually will affect us somewhere down the road,” he predicted.

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