FOLLOWING THE revocation of an exploration licence, which was granted to Rainville Energy Corp, a subsidiary of Sagres Energy, to drill for oil, Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell has signalled that another company that was granted a licence could have it cancelled if they don't begin drilling soon.
The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica yesterday said the failure of Rainville to meet its financial obligations has resulted in the revocation.
Under the agreement, which dates back to 2006, Rainville should have secured the necessary funding for the second phase of the programme which began in May 2012.
Among other things, this phase involved the drilling of an exploratory well by November 2013.
Paulwell told The Gleaner that there is "another company that we are urging for performance and we believe they will perform".
Paulwell said a licence has been issued to Finder Exploration of Australia and they will now have to commit to a specific time for drilling.
"We are not going to allow any of these companies to hold on to any of these licences anymore without drilling," Paulwell said.
He said the local authorities are in discussions with Finder and the discussions will end with either a date for the start of drilling or the licence being cancelled.
"We have to send a strong signal to the market place that we mean business," the minister said.
"We are so confident of the prospects that we are not going to allow anybody to hold on to reserves or potential ventures and not do anything about them," Paulwell said.
In the meantime, Paulwell said he is in full control of his portfolio, but Opposition Spokesman Gregory Mair told The Gleaner that he was waiting to hear from Paulwell about matters under his portfolio, especially LNG.
"I am not impressed with how the LNG-related matters are being handled," Mair said.
Since being sworn in as minister of energy in January, Paulwell has been faced with a litany of woes, many threatening to throw the energy sector into a crisis.
His desire to break the JPS monopoly on transmission and distribution of energy has been countered by Dr Carlton Davis, consultant to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on energy.
Paulwell has also been contradicted by bauxite company UC Rusal after the minister told Parliament that the company, despite tax relief and incentives, has made the decision to close the Ewarton plant later this year for one year.
This past weekend, The Sunday Gleaner reported that the Government was set to abandon its LNG project, which was touted as the key to reducing Jamaica's energy bill.
Despite the issues, Paulwell said he is in "full control and that is why you are seeing the decisive actions".
"We cannot allow the country to continue in this state of quagmire," he added.
"Next week I will be speaking about the UC Rusal matter in Parliament and at the same time I will be addressing the LNG issue," Paulwell said.
He told The Gleaner that his presentation "will show great stridency and initiative and leadership on the part of the Government to once and for all solve our energy problem".
Asked if he feels under pressure based on the number of things which appear to be going awry with energy, Paulwell said "absolutely not".
"I am upbeat and you will see it in the presentation next week that Jamaica is going to solve its energy problem once and for all. I am absolutely certain, I have never been more confident and exuberant," Paulwell said.