Fri | Jul 10, 2020

Energy Ministry reportedly to take over PCJ operations, opposition wants explanation

Published:Friday | September 13, 2019 | 2:50 PM
File photo

The government has reportedly decided to close the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and transfer its functions to the Ministry of Mining, Energy and Technology.

According to opposition spokesperson on energy Phillip Paulwell, the decision was communicated to PCJ staff at a meeting yesterday.

Paulwell is calling for Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Energy, Fayval Williams, to shed light on the matter.

“The decision to close down the PCJ was taken without the benefit of any discussion with the [energy] council, the parliamentary opposition or consultation with industry stakeholders,” the opposition spokesperson said.

“The decision is curious, ill-advised and will plunge Jamaica’s energy sector into uncertainty,” he added.

Attempts by The Gleaner this afternoon to get a comment from Williams were unsuccessful. 

In Photo: Phillips Paulwell, opposition spokesperson on energy 

Paulwell argued that the PCJ was established by statute in 1979 as Jamaica’s policy response to the world’s energy crisis, aspects of which persist today.

He said the need for a specialised energy sector agency remains necessary to conduct the day to day management of one of Jamaica most critical sectors of industry, commerce and domestic households.

“The government must provide a detailed statement on the way forward and how the Ministry could take on the functions of the PCJ while simultaneously absorbing the responsibilities of the NESoL [National Energy Solutions Limited], a decision announced by the Prime Minister some months ago.

“The statement should also include what would become of the oil and gas exploration projects for which PCJ is holding and supervising contracts for the continuing offshore investigations,” said Paulwell.

He also wants to know how the cabinet decision would affect the future of Petrojam, the state-owned oil refinery, of which PCJ is the parent company.

Paulwell also expressed concern for PCJ workers and called for Williams to immediately say what would become of the highly skilled members of staff workforce and how many would be absorbed by the Ministry.

The PNP spokesman said he also wants to know what decision has the cabinet taken in relation to the assets of the company, including the 2,000 acre Font Hill property in St Elizabeth, which includes a beachfront park and creation area.

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