Sun | Aug 20, 2017

JPS unfazed by LNG shipper’s losses

Published:Wednesday | June 29, 2016 | 6:00 AMSteven Jackson
Tomblin

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), managers of the national electricity grid expects Golar LNG to ship liquefied natural gas to Jamaica, despite its heavy losses.

Golar is contracted to New Fortress Energy (NFE), the latter being JPS's selected partner to develop and supply natural gas to the Jamaican utility. New Fortress is five months behind schedule with deliveries.

JPS President and Chief Executive Officer Kelly Tomblin said that even in the worst-case scenario, the power utility remains protected.

"Golar is a public company with a market cap of about US$1.5 billion and a balance sheet with over US$4 billion of assets. It's been in business since 1946 and is widely followed by investors all over the world," said Tomblin in a response to Gleaner queries.

"New Fortress Energy has indicated to me that they have been a dependable and reliable partner in preparing to deliver gas to Jamaica. JPS is protected contractually if New Fortress fails to bring gas, as required in the gas supply agreement."

NFE earlier this year contracted Golar for two years to ship LNG to Jamaica. The first shipments will feed JPS's plant at Bogue in Montego Bay, which has already been retrofitted to burn gas as well as diesel oil.

In early June, NFE acknowledged Gleaner queries regarding the implications of Golar's finances, but did not follow through with a response.

NET LOSSES

Golar reported net losses of US$80 million for its first quarter ending March. The loss was mainly because of its US$61.5 million in operating expenses, towering over its US$18.6 million in revenues for the period. Over 12 months, Golar posted a US$197.6-million net loss for financial year 2015 and US$43 million in net losses for 2014.

Last month, CEO Gary Smith resigned, and its former CEO, Oscar Spieler, retook control of the company amid restructuring of the operations.

Tomblin expects the LNG projects at Bogue and, later, at Old Harbour, along with additional capacity from renewable plants, to reduce the power utility's reliance on heavy oil from 95 per cent to 50 per cent in the medium term.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com