Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Private sector to benefit from natural gas conference

Published:Monday | September 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Andrew Wheatley
Winston Watson, group general manager, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.
Ansord Hewitt, director general of the OUR.

Major players in the energy sector, prospective investors and other sector interests will gather in New Kingston from October 4 to 6 for the first-ever Jamaica Natural Gas Conference.

The initiative, which is being spearheaded by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), will be held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

It's being held under the theme 'New Horizons: The development of a natural gas sector in Jamaica - prospects and challenges'.

While the conference is open to all interested parties, the agenda will be of particular interest to the private sector, including existing and potential energy companies as well as high energy users, such as the bauxite companies. The target audience also includes government organisations, notably the ministries of energy, finance, transport, industry and commerce, economic growth and job creation as well as agencies such as Tax Administration of Jamaica, Port Authority of Jamaica and JAMPRO.

The event will also provide a forum for stakeholders to contribute to the development of the policies and regulatory framework for the natural gas sector.

Natural gas to bring opportunities, changes and benefits

The three-day Jamaica Natural Gas Conference presents a chance for a wide range of stakeholders to learn about the opportunities, changes and benefits that should result from the introduction of natural gas into Jamaica's energy mix.

The agenda will feature presentations and panel discussions from key players in the regional and international gas industry; as well as representatives from financial, academic, statutory and regulatory institutions. The main objective will be to explore the economic, commercial, legal and regulatory implications of the development of a local natural gas industry.

Speakers include Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley, who is committed to leading the diversification and expansion of Jamaica's energy sector, with his primary goals being lower electricity bills and sustainability. Other speakers include Wesley R. Edens, founder and co-chairman of the board of directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Fortress was founded in 1998 and is a $70-billion alternative asset management company with headquarters in New York and offices around the world.

Malaika Masson, energy specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the Energy Division in Kingston, Jamaica, will lead the session sponsored by the IDB, on innovation and application: 'Natural gas, a transportation fuel'.

Other speakers will include Allison Peart, the country managing partner and a tax partner at the Ernst & Young Office in Jamaica; Professor Alvin Wint, pro-vice-chancellor and board chair for undergraduate studies and institutional advancement officer at the UWI, Mona campus; Bob Fryklund, chief upstream strategist, IHS Energy; and Ian Mondrow, who leads Gowling WLG's energy regulation and policy practice in the firm's Toronto office, among others.


Energy security


Director general of the OUR, Ansord Hewitt, remarked that, "the introduction of natural gas in Jamaica provides another medium to achieve energy security, diversity and choice, efficiency and lower energy charges, all of which are critical focus of the OUR's mandate. It is also anticipated that the conference will help to lay the policy and regulatory framework for this emerging industry".

Similarly, the PCJ's group general manager, Winston Watson, noted: "The emergence of a natural gas industry in Jamaica will present numerous commercial and other prospects for several related sectors, and the conference aims to foster greater understanding of how Jamaican commercial entities, government institutions and even individual professionals can best exploit the opportunities."