Rubis Caribbean ready for battle over oil terminal sale in Barbados
BRIDGETOWN – Rubis Caribbean has declared war to protect its multi-million dollar investment in Barbados as it anxiously awaits a decision from the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) on the proposed sale of the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) to regional petroleum giant, Sol.
A defiant Rubis chief executive officer Mauricio Nicholls served notice that it will fight tooth and nail in the law courts against the deal that it says will destroy its market share.
“We are prepared to fight the battle with all the elements the law gives us to fight that battle, because we are fighting for our survival and our future here in this country. We are prepared to fight as hard as we can. We will fight it legally, ethically, with the right arguments and the right forums, but this is a huge issue for us,” he said.
But before the company goes the route of the law courts, it has proposed an alternative to the Barbados Government, which confirmed last month that Sol was purchasing the island’s lone oil terminal for US$100 million.
Nicholls has appealed to the government to consider joint ownership, announcing that Rubis’ Paris-based headquarters was willing to offer US$50 million for a 50 percent stake in the state-owned facility.
“We are ready to review the sale purchase agreement rapidly and we are ready to sign very shortly after that and we are committed to doing that so that the transaction, if the Government and the FTC agree to sell it jointly, will close by March,” Nicholls said
He stressed that Rubis had invested millions of dollars in Barbados to remain in the country for the long haul and it was unfair to now hand Sol a monopoly to the detriment of other players in the market and the island’s reputation as a major investment hub.
“What sort of message are we sending about Barbados that, after making such a significant investment we turn around and give the entire power to a competitor? It isn’t just about Rubis and Sol; we are setting precedent and it’s a dangerous one,” the Rubis CEO warned.
BNTCL, a subsidiary of the Barbados National Oil Company Limited, manages the importation and supply of gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. It also provides storage for the local crude oil to facilitate shipping to Trinidad.