Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Jamaica anxious to buy Venezuela Petrojam shares

Published:Friday | June 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Dr Andrew Wheatley

Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley says that Jamaica is anxious to finalise the purchasing of the 49 per cent shares in Petrojam Limited that is held by Venezuelan company Petroleum of Venezuela.

The minister said that although Jamaica owns majority shares in Petrojam (51 per cent), the company has been experiencing difficulties conducting business because of part ownership by Venezuela, which has been facing economic sanctions imposed by the United States of America.

Wheatley was speaking to The Gleaner on Wednesday at the launch of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica's Energy Management Programme, worth US$40 million. The funds were provided by the Japan International Cooporation Agency, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the European Union.


Effects of sanctions


"No! [We have not turned our back on Venezuela). As it relates to our own energy security, we have a responsibility to our citizens. The current geo-political situation endangers us. We are feeling the effects of the sanctions placed on Venezuela last year because it has caused us hardship transacting business," Wheatley told The Gleaner.

"The sanctions - particularly the executive order 13808 signed in August last year, which prevents US companies from doing business with Venezuelan entities - have been posing problems because some of the banks we use are US banks. They (US banks) are concerned about contracts that we are engaged in, and [they] always want extra clarification. It's just too difficult for us to do business," he said.

Wheatley continued: "The Petrojam refinery is priority for us. We are very appreciative of what Venezuela has done for us in the past, but we have to look about our own energy security because we are approaching a level of anxiety not having that degree of energy security. Plus, the refinery needs an upgrade."