February 10, 2006
Texaco threatens to withhold gas

The Government is being held to ransom!

Tomorrow its representatives are expecting to be back in negotiations with TEXACO as the last meeting was inconclusive – however already at the bargaining table is a threat from TEXACO, says Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Dr Gonsalves told the nation on Monday, February 6, that TEXACO is upset with the Government for making Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) a price controlled item.{{more}}

According to the Prime Minister, TEXACO has been seeking to increase the price of its 20lb cylinders of propane from $30 to $43 since last year.

Government’s reluctance to give TEXACO the green light to have its way has resulted in that company writing a letter to the Government on November 11 threatening to stop supplying the country with LPG by December 7, 2005 – Elections Day – if the price control was not removed. The Prime Minister said this was one of the reasons why he had to rush to get cooking gas out of Venezuela.

The threat remains on the table, and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has disclosed that TEXACO has warned that come February 25, if the price control is not removed they will stop the supply.

“I want to take the people into my confidence and let them know what they and their government are up against,” said Dr. Gonsalves, adding that he was not making any political accusation against TEXACO.

“I don’t see how we can be involved in a discussion and there is a threat. That to me is a peculiar way to do business,” the Prime Minister retorted.

The Prime Minister said he is addressing the threat seriously, but is not panicking.

“Nobody can expect the people of St.Vincent and the Grenadines to be bulldozed into any unreasonableness,” warned Dr. Gonsalves.

He said he has since spoken to Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, and had written to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to ensure a regular supply of LPG. He said he is also in contact with SOL (Simpson Oil Limited) just in case there is need for an emergency supply.

“If any company wants to bulldoze the people of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, they can bulldoze them if there is a different government,” the Prime Minister outlined.

Dr. Gonsalves said if TEXACO can show the $43 that they are asking for is justifiable, he will have to come to the people and say, “it is high and justifiable”.

“I withstood the pressure once. I will withstand it again if need be,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

On Tuesday, SEARCHLIGHT contacted Brian John, TEXACO’s local manager who disclosed he could not comment on the matter as such issues are handled by TEXACO’s Miami office.