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Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago
IndustryOil and gas industry
PredecessorTrintoc, Trintopec, Trinmar
SuccessorTrinidad Petroleum Holding Ltd.
FoundedJanuary 1993 (1993-01)
DefunctNovember 30, 2018 (2018-11-30)
Number of locations
3 - Pointe-a-Pierre, Point Fortin & Santa Flora
Key people
Wilfred Espinet (Chairman)[1]
Total assetsTT$40.5 billion
OwnerGovernment of Trinidad and Tobago
Number of employees

Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Petrotrin) was a state-owned oil company in Trinidad and Tobago. Its principal activities were the exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons in addition to the manufacturing and marketing of petroleum products.

As a State-enterprise, Petrotrin was under the direct control of the Minister of Finance acting as the Corporation Sole, and the Ministry of Energy as the line ministry that provides specialized technical analyses and statutory approvals for the company’s operations.


The company was established in 1993 by the merger of Trintopec and Trintoc, two state-owned oil companies. A third company, Trinmar Ltd was merged into the company in 2000.[3] Trintoc was formed from the assets of Shell Trinidad Ltd in 1974 and Texaco in 1985. Trintopec was formed in 1985 when the government purchased the interests of Trinidad Tesoro, a joint venture between the government and Tesoro Oil Company, which was created to purchase the assets of British Petroleum (BP) in 1969. Trinmar was formed when the government purchased the offshore exploration assets of Trinidad Northern Areas Limited (TNA) which was formed by the then "Big Three"; British Petroleum, Texaco and Shell.

These companies were formed from a suite of earlier companies including Trinidad Oilfields Limited (TOL), United British Oilfields of Trinidad (UBOT), Trinidad Leaseholds Limited (TLL), Trinidad Petroleum Development Co (TPD), Apex Trinidad Oilfields (APEX/ATO) and Kern Trinidad Oilfields (KTO), which had themselves been formed to first able commercialize oil finds in Trinidad in the early twentieth century.[4]

Petrotrin operated in land and marine acreage across southern Trinidad. In some instances, the company has engaged in joint ventures, lease operator-ships, farm-outs and incremental production services contracts to support its exploration and production activities. In 2004, Petrotrin was granted an automatic stake in all exploration and production arrangements with foreign companies in Trinidad and Tobago.

In 2018, 90% of Petrotrin’s sales to the local market have been fuel – 46% is from gasoline, 37% from diesel, 11% from jet fuel and 5% from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or cooking gas). Petrotrin exported to Caricom market with the main countries being Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana.[5]


Petrotrin operated Trinidad and Tobago's single petroleum refinery, located at Pointe-à-Pierre, just north of the city of San Fernando and is popularly known as the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery. The refinery produced liquid petroleum gases, unleaded motor gasoline, avjet/kerosene, diesel/ heating oil, fuel oil and aviation gasoline among other products. It has driven the country's economy and placed the country in the hydrocarbon sector.

In 1913, former sugar estates in the area was purchased for plans to build a refinery[6] by Trinidad Leaseholds Ltd, a British subsidiary of Central Mining Company headquartered in the United Kingdom. In 1917, the refinery was built and began production at 75,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). Its first upgrade occurred in 1928 with the construction of the No 3 and 4 Topping plants. During World War II the refinery was identified as an asset to be “protected at all cost” as a major supplier of aircraft fuel for the Allied forces.[7] By 1940, the refinery went through another expansion, a top secret project known as Project 1234 and by May 1942, the first Catalytic Cracking Unit came on stream[8] where refining capacity in Trinidad and Tobago was recorded at 28.5 million barrels per year. At the end of World War II, the refinery was recognized as the largest in the British empire.

In 1956, Trinidad Leaseholds Ltd was acquired by Texaco where by April 1960, the No 8 Topping Unit came on stream along with a lubricating oil plant, canning plant and a paraf­fins plant with production increasing to 360,000 barrels per day. Following the unrest of the 1970 Black Power Revolution, the refinery continued to be viable and by late 1984, Texaco assets including the refinery was acquired by the State and placed under the state company Trintoc which itself was merged to form Petrotrin in 1993. By 1997, upgrades were done moving production from 90,000 to 160,000 barrels per day. More upgrades were done on the plants as recent as 2011. By being the only refinery in operation in the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago became the supplier of refined petroleum products to the rest of the region.[9]

Petrotrin produced 48,047 barrels per day (7,638.9 m3/d) and had proven reserves totaling 439,585 million barrels (6.98884×1010 m3).

The refinery had a capacity of 190 thousand barrels per day (30,000 m3/d) and it was the only refinery in the world that operated alongside a wildlife park.[10]


Petrotrin became the embodiment of poor corporate governance, expressed in bad policy decisions, wastage, corruption and nepotism across governments. The Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union’s power over the company due to consolidation of past state oil companies made it even more difficult for management to institute changes. On 28 August 2018, it was announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that Petrotrin would have to be shut down because of the company's inability to generate a profit during a period of low oil prices where TT$8 billion was lost over five years. Also cited by the government was lack of competitiveness, declining production, TT$12 billion in debt, and the loss of foreign exchange due to the importation of oil to be used together with locally produced oil to keep the refinery in operation. A cash injection of $25 billion would be required to refresh its infrastructure and repay its debt.[11] On 30 November 2018, Petrotrin was shut down with the country's largest refinery officially closed after 101 years in operation. Approximately 5,500 permanent and temporary/casual employees lost their jobs.

Petrotrin has broken into four new companies managed by government appointed Chairman Mr Wilfred Espinet that became effective from 1st December 2018:

  • Trinidad Petroleum Holding Limited - Legacy matters such as settling outstanding financial debts by Petrotrin.
  • Heritage Petroleum Company Limited - Exploration, development, production and marketing of crude oil.
  • Paria Fuel Trading Company - Trading and marketing of imported fuel products.
  • Guaracara Refining Company - Holding company for the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and related assets to be offered for sale.

The refinery flame was a national landmark with many in surrounding communities such as Pointe-a-Pierre, Marabella, Claxton Bay and Gasparillo expressing hopes for the refinery to be purchased and restarted by private enterprise.


  1. ^ "Governance". Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  2. ^ "Time To Build Up, Not Breakdown Petrotrin". Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Our Company". Petrotrin. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Honouring our Industrial Roots - Petroleum Industry" (PDF). National Archives of Trinidad & Tobago. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  5. ^ "101 years laid to rest". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  6. ^ " - Pointe-à-Pierre - A Brief History of Pointe-à-Pierre". Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  7. ^ "101 years laid to rest". Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. 2018-08-30. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  8. ^ "Petrotrin refinery spruced up to attract buyer". Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  9. ^ Renwick, David (2008). ENERGY Caribbean Yearbook. Prospect Press/MEP.
  10. ^ is currently known for being the first oil refinery that operates alongside a nature park
  11. ^ "Turnaround possible for Petrotrin". Retrieved 2019-03-14.

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