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West Indies Petroleum commissions two bunkering barges

Published:Wednesday | October 7, 2015 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham

West Indies Petroleum (WIP) commissioned two barges for its bunkering business on Wednesday at Kingston's Victoria Pier.

The barges - WIP Endeavor with a capacity of 45,000 barrels, and WIP Jam One, 22,000 barrels - will bunker fuel to near-shore ships or those docking at any one of Jamaica's nine ports. WIP Chairman Gordon Shirley says the three-year-old company has so far invested US$10 million in the business with plans for further expansion into all areas of fuelling.

"Our expansion will encompass not being known as a bunkering company but as a fuel company. That said, what we'd like to do is to improve the gamut of services - everything that is service-related in the fuel industry - we'd like to corner all aspects of that," said Shirley, who has a background in the Jamaican petroleum sector, and has no relation to Port Authority of Jamaica President Professor Gordon Shirley.

West Indies Petroleum was formed in November 2012 and commenced bunkering exactly one year later. The four-member board comprises Shirley, John Levy, Tariq Felix and Courtney Wilkinson.

Paired operations

The WIP Endeavor has an appraised value of US$4.5 million. It was recently acquired in Texas and is paired with the tugboat WIP Spirit. Jam One is paired with the tugboat WIP Dependable. It was acquired as part of the divested assets of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) at a cost of US$700,000. Financing was provided by First Global Bank.

In an interview, the WIP chairman noted that the Jam One barge was lying idle when WIP tendered its successful bid. He said the acquisition allowed WIP to venture into a business dominated by foreign-owned companies.

Speaking at the commissioning, Minister of Science, Technology and Mining Phillip Paulwell said the investment and expansion by the group of Jamaicans at WIP represents the sort of risk-taking entrepreneurialism that must be encouraged as Jamaica goes for growth. He says the WIP expansion is well timed and fits in with planned port expansion and developments in the Panama Canal.

"With the expected increase in size and volume of ships coming through our local ports due to the widening of the Panama Canal, WIP's expansion is strategically timed to help to propel Jamaica in our own quest to establish a hub here. Vessels that ply the route will require fuel, which you are strategically placed to supply," Paulwell said.

Both of WIP's barges are designed to carry a range of fuels, including heavy fuel oils, intermediate fuels, marine gas oil, and marine diesel.