GUYSUCO sugar woes put refinery plans on hold
The woes that have plagued the Guyana Sugar Corporation for more than a decade now, have led to the Government-owned company, shelving a plan to establish its own refinery, with the hope that by 2015, it could be placed back on the front burner.
This was revealed in 2010 by former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sugar Corporation, Errol Hanoman, during a hearing before the Economic Services Committee of the last Parliament.
At the time, he along with then Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud and Guysuco’s Deputy CEO Raj Singh appeared to be interrogated by the
Parliamentary body on the state-of-affairs of the Sugar Industry.
This newspaper only recently managed to obtain a copy of the transcript of that hearing.
The Parliamentary Committee was chaired by Government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira and also included the late, Winston Murray, Dharamkumar Seeraj and Alliance for Change (AFC) Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan among others.
Hanoman told those in attendance at the February 4th, 2010 sitting of that Standing Parliamentary Committee that “By 2015, we are looking at an ethanol plant and getting that refinery project back on the table.”
He had explained to the Committee members that “with the ethanol, the excess molasses that we produce at the moment, and by that I mean the molasses above and beyond what is required by the local distillery, is enough to provide gasohol. Let us say a ten per cent mix of all petrol driven vehicles in Guyana.”
He went on to tell the Committee that GuySuCo, had done a feasibility study for refinery, and it did indicate that a refinery in Guyana will be feasible.
Hanoman did lament that “It has been put on the back burner at the moment because what is essential is that we get our basic sugar operation back up to a level that will allow the feedstock that is needed for the refinery.”
He said that with the anticipated progress in the industry, “we are going to bring the refinery studies back on the front burner and, all being well; I would like to hope that we could see a refinery being commissioned by 2015.”
The Guyana Government, one year later, inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Regional Conglomerate Ansa McAl Group of Companies.
That agreement was inked in Trinidad and Tobago, unknowingly to the Guyanese people.
After reports of a secret deal surfaced, the company’s executives flew to Guyana and conceded a delay in making the announcement.
It was pointed out that the multi-national company is putting TT$17M into the feasibility study for the establishment of a world class ethanol facility.
This was one year after the GuySuCo, CEO made the pronouncement on ethanol production at GuySuCo.
If the Ansa McAl study demonstrates that the project is viable, the company said that it would be willing to put between TT$250M and TT$300M to get the project up and running.
Currently, the company said they have no partners.
In doing so, the company would need a huge expanse of land to plant whatever crop they choose with sugar cane being the preferred option at this time.
It was the Trinidad Guardian that announced that the MoU was signed between the Government and Ansa McAl on September 30th, 2011.
The Guyana Government did not make the signing of the MoU public prior to that announcement in Trinidad and Tobago.
A statement by Ansa McAl said that the agro-energy industrial project will be built on 110,000 (approx. 425 square miles) hectares of virgin land.
However, Ansa McAl’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Aneal Maharaj emphasised that the government has given the company no commitments thus far.
Anthony Sabga 111, the Business Development Executive emphasised that Ansa McAl could not at this time say definitely that it would go ahead with the project; that question could only be answered when the feasibility study is completed at the end of November this year.