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Coimex, Petrojam expand partnership - Brazilian company to exercise five-year option on ethanol project
published: Friday | July 6, 2007

John Myers Jr., Business Reporter

Brazilian Ambassador to Jamaica Cezar Amaral introduces Dr. Ruth Potopsingh (left) managing director of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica to Bernadette Coser de Orem, president of Coimex, Brazil's largest ethanol producer. The ambassador hosted a dinner for the Coimex executive at his Cherry Gardens residence in Kingston, Monday. - Colin Hamilton/Freelance Photographer

Brazil's Coimex Group plans to extend its partnership in Petrojam Ethanol Limited (PEL), according to president Bernadette Coser de Orem, and is also looking to participate in the new 60 million gallon ethanol plant to be built by the state operated energy company.

"We are discussing with Petrojam about going deeper into this partnership (to see) how this partnership can grow to create even better prospects for both our company and Petrojam and adding to that Brazilian commitment to ethanol," said Coser de Orem, speaking with the Financial Gleaner.

PEL is fully owned by Petrojam, but in 2004, the local oil refinery entered into a three-year joint venture agreement with Coimex to supply feedstock for the 40-million gallon capacity plant. PEL's output of fuel grade ethanol is sold into the United States market.

The agreement allowed Coimex the option of renewing the arrangement for another five years.

Feasibility studies

Coser de Orem told the Financial Gleaner that her company, which has businesses in foreign trade, logistics, electricity, the financial services and highway concessions, was currently conducting feasibility studies with Petrojam on the new plant.

"We are highly interested in making new investments, other than the investments we already have in partnership with Petrojam. We have some studies to make and we should decide soon about those new investments," said the Coimex president.

Petrojam's managing director, Winston Watson, said last month it would take US$18 million to US$20 million to build the new plant, and that PEL was hunting investors.

Watson also said PEL was exploring feedstock sources from within the local sugar industry.

Coser de Orem, who arrived in the island on Monday with other company executives for a three-day visit, said her company "would be very happy to start construction for next year" on the new plant.

"We wouldn't want to wait longer than that."

Still to be finalised is a site to locate the new ethanol plant. Watson said that with the oil refinery's expansion, the Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston locale - home of the other ethanol plant - just could not accommodate another facility.

Explaining Coimex's aggressive push into the Jamaican market, Coser said the country's geopolitics made it a good logistical bet, apparently referring both to proximity and good relations with large ethanol consumer, the United States.

"Jamaica has many advantages," she said, "the tradition of production, the geopolitical position and the logistical facilities and first mover advantage (unexplored territory)."

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