Thu | Dec 14, 2017

​ Introduction of LNG to Jamaica will spur development - Matalon

Published:Monday | October 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dr Andrew Wheatley (centre), minister of science, energy and technology, speaks with Joseph Matalon (left), chairman of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), and chairman of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Russell Hadeed, during the PCJ/OUR Natural Gas Conference held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last week.

Chairman of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Joseph Matalon, says the emergence of a natural gas sector in Jamaica is a development that is long overdue for many reasons. Among other things, he says, it is a potential game changer for the country's energy industry and the wider economy.

Matalon, who was giving the welcome at the opening of a three-day inaugural Natural Gas Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last Wednesday, asserted that the ever-increasing demand globally for energy can no longer be met primarily by fossil fuels.

"We must find ways to satisfy our growing energy needs that do not threaten our natural resources," he said, adding that "failure to do so creates a real potential for catastrophic climate change, such as more powerful and less predictable hurricanes, which our region has already begun to experience".

Pointing to Jamaica's Vision 2030 development plan, which speaks to the creation of a modern and efficient energy sector, Matalon says securing that objective was critical since "much of the prospect for our economic development hangs on this". One such way in which this will be achieved is through the introduction, development and use of new energy sources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

 

EXPENSIVE AND INEFFICIENT

 

The OUR chairman highlighted that more than 90 per cent of electricity generation in Jamaica is fueled by imported heavy fuel oil. This, he said, "has proven to be expensive, inefficient and unstable, especially given the volatility of oil prices". He acknowledged that LNG prices are not immune to such volatility but argued that "its ability to support new and more fuel conversion-efficient investments will go a far way in mitigation".

And, Matalon said he was confident that the introduction of LNG to Jamaica will also be an impetus for the development of new industries, new commercial applications and the re-tooling of large industries directly linked to the sector. "That aside, there is also the demonstrative effect of such large investments in saying to the world that Jamaica is a stable democracy, open for business, and with a bright future."

The OUR chairman concluded that energy efficiency contributes directly and indirectly to both micro, and macroeconomic development, as reduced energy consumption combined with improved productivity from energy efficiency can yield significant economic benefits.

The inaugural natural gas conference, under the theme 'New Horizons: prospects and challenges for a natural gas sector in Jamaica', took place over three days and was organised jointly by the OUR and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.