Trinidad and Tobago increased its gasoline and diesel imports —including from more unusual sources— in the past two months, and began exporting its domestic Molo crude stream, following the decision of state-owned oil firm Petrotrin to wind down operations at its Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Petrotrin announced in late August it would close the country’s only refinery due to mounting debt, operating losses and royalties owed to the government.

The decision has resulted in the export of a crude oil stream previously destined for domestic use, amid an increase in refined oil products imports, reflected in Vortexa data.

Gasoline flows in from Europe

The country has been largely self-sufficient for gasoline in recent years, only occasionally importing from the US.

But the beginning of the refinery mothballing process prompted more unusual inflows of gasoline during November, including from Europe. Early in the month the medium-range (MR) tanker STI Notting Hill discharged part of its gasoline cargo at Pointe-a-Pierre after loading from the 220,000 b/d Petronor refinery in Bilbao on 15 October.

This was followed by the MR tanker British Captain, which arrived at the same port with its clean products cargo on 25 November, after loading earlier from Vopak Terminal Amsterdam Westpoort — one of the largest gasoline exporting terminals in Europe.

Pointe-a-Pierre’s diesel imports from the US Gulf coast have also risen since news of the refinery closure emerged. Late October to early November arrivals included diesel cargoes from the Handysize tanker Parsifal II and the MR tanker High Mars.

Other clean petroleum product cargoes have continued to arrive into the country from the US Gulf coast since.

Molo crude exports emerge

On the crude export side, Petrotrin exported two medium sour domestic Molo cargoes in November, with shipments expected to continue in December. Imports into the country meanwhile slumped from October onwards.

November’s Molo exports comprised Aframax tanker Maersk Pearl, which delivered to Rotterdam on 1 December. The end-November loader Aframax Pamisos is due in Houston in the coming days.

The first Molo crude cargo was observed exported at the very end of October aboard Aframax Hellespont Progress, which discharged into Chiriqui Grande, Panama in early November. The US then imported around 350,000bl of Molo crude into Martinez, California this month from Seaways Luzon, which loaded mid-November from the Charco Azul terminal in Panama.

Trinidad and Tobago also exports its other crude production, namely flagship light sweet Galeota Mix, as well as light sour Calypso Blend. These volumes head mostly to Peru, the US, as well as more occasionally to Europe.