Caribbean Gas Chemical Ltd (CGCL), the company charged with the development of the new Methanol and Dimethyl Ether plant in Union Estate, La Brea, has partnered with the Energy Chamber to deliver PLEA training programmes and STOW awareness sessions for the La Brea community. CGCL’s partners include Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Mitsubishi Corporation, The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Massy Holdings and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. 

Construction on the USD990 million petrochemical project will commence in Quarter One of 2016. During construction the labour force is expected to peak at 2,000 people, creating a significant employment opportunity. Since 2013, CGCL has invested in training programmes for the fenceline communities in the villages of Vance River, Union, Vessigny, Sobo, La Brea and Rousillac. These are aimed at developing the residents and local contractors in preparation for potential employment opportunities which will arise from the project. 

Health, Safety and the Environment (HSE) will be a top priority item for CGCL during the construction and operation of the plants. As such, CGCL has embarked on training with the Energy Chamber to ensure that the fenceline residents are exposed to basic HSE principles and practices. 

For the past five years, the Energy Chamber has been operating a system to assess the HSE knowledge of all contracted workers on behalf of the Point Lisas Energy Association (PLEA). Persons entering the plants in Point Lisas, the Atlantic facility and Petrotrin’s operations are required to present a valid 'PLEA card'. This card validates that the person has the required knowledge to work safely. 

The Energy Chamber has set up a temporary training and assessment centre in the NESC facilities in La Brea to ensure ease of access by the fenceline community. At the time of writing, 66 residents had been trained and assessed, with a plan to train and assess a total of 400 over the next eight months. 

Kris Agard, a resident of La Brea and one of the trainees, reports, “My experience was very informative and truly, it was beyond my expectations, having had firsthand general knowledge of the basic safety requirements needed. It is a very unique gesture from Caribbean Gas Chemical Limited partnering with The Energy Chamber of T&T, to conduct PLEA training for the fenceline residents. I look forward to more training opportunities from the company and it is my hope that they continue on the good path that they have started, in building our human resource of La Brea and environs by providing these types of training. Thank you CGCL … job well done!” 

Dax Driver, CEO of the Energy Chamber, explains that this partnership with CGCL is an important aspect of the organisations' work to improve health and safety and their commitment to social responsibility: “Despite being one of the oldest communities hosting the oil industry, La Brea suffers from many social problems, including unemployment and poverty. The new CGCL facility in Union Estate can help to kickstart local economic development, but it is important to make sure local residents get a chance to benefit from the project. The Energy Chamber is open to partnering with CGCL and any other stakeholder to make this a reality. We believe that support from the host community is vital for any successful, large, energy-based industry."