US puts LNG back on Ja table
Almost two years after giving up on liquefied natural gas (LNG), the Government's dream of bringing the fuel to Jamaica has been reignited.
"This has been an area that has eluded us for many years," Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell stated at the signing of a statement of intent between the United States Department of Energy and Jamaica's Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining yesterday.
In addition to cooperation on LNG, it provides for technical assistance in energy conservation and fuel diversification.
In 2013, following a decade of attempts and the expenditure of some US$4 million, the Government ended its quest to introduce LNG as the solution to the country's high electricity prices.
Paulwell had blamed the unavailability of the supply of LNG at reasonable prices for the reversal of a decision which had found favour with successive administrations over the past decade.
But Jamaica is again hoping it will finally be able to get its LNG project off the ground with the signing of the agreement.
Speaking with The Gleaner after the signing of the agreement, Paulwell said the Government was optimistic about the prospect of LNG from the US, especially following a recent report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
"When we saw the report that was done by the IDB in relation to the feasibility of gas to Jamaica, we were absolutely excited, because even at those terms, without subsidies, we'll be able to significantly change the profile and landscape of our energy sector in Jamaica," he stated.
Paulwell further said the Government was also optimistic about the prospect of becoming a hub for distribution of LNG from the US to the rest of the region.
The US Department of Energy was represented at the signing by its secretary, Dr Ernest Moniz, who is part of the delegation of US President Barack Obama, who arrived in the island on Wednesday evening.
In the meantime, the energy minister has dismissed speculation that the agreement signed this morning signals a pulling away from Venezuela by Jamaica.
Jamaica and other Caribbean nations are part of the PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela, which sees them receiving fuel on favourable terms from the South American country.
But Mr Paulwell said the relationship with Venezuela remains strong and any deal struck with the US will complement the PetroCaribe arrangement.