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IDB welcomes introduction of LNG in Jamaica, Caribbean

Published:Thursday | September 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMLynford Simpson
Therese Turner-Jones

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is describing the introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Jamaica as an important step forward in the country's quest for energy diversification.

According to energy specialist at the IDB Dr Malaika Masson, the multi-lateral agency shares the goal of establishing a diverse energy matrix in Jamaica and other countries of the Caribbean. To this end, Masson said that the IDB was supporting the governments of the region as they strengthened their institutional and regulatory capacities.

Responding to questions from The Gleaner, Masson noted that LNG-fueled turbines burn cleaner than power generators burning heavy fuel oil (HFO). Masson said that these turbines also have the ability to ramp up output more quickly, which helps compensate for intermittent power produced from renewable sources like solar and wind. "LNG-fuelled power plants can thus help to stabilise the grid as Jamaica transitions to an ever greater share of renewables in its energy matrix," she shared.


Introduction welcome


For her part, Therese Turner-Jones, general manager, IDB's Caribbean Country Department, said that the bank "welcomes the introduction of LNG in Jamaica and, ultimately, the Caribbean." Turner-Jones said that the IDB "believes this is key to our vision to improve lives in the region by creating vibrant sustainable economies where people are safe, productive and happy".

Turner-Jones added: "LNG and energy diversification are fundamental to long-term economic sustainability and growth in the region." She said that governments should, therefore, move to develop the necessary energy policies and standards required to make diversification a reality.

'LNG can lend greater stability, predictability to energy sector'

Energy Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Dr Malaika Masson, says that another important aspect of the introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Jamaica, is pricing. The energy specialist stated that the price of LNG was less volatile than fuels produced from petroleum, like HFO, diesel, and gasoline.

"The LNG component of Jamaica's energy mix can therefore lend greater stability and predictability to the energy sector and will help protect the country's foreign exchange reserves in the event oil prices increase significantly again," Masson asserted.

She added that in short, LNG has the potential to contribute to a more stable economy and greater energy security for the country and positions Jamaica as a potential hub in the regional energy value chain. This, in turn, could enable supply optimisation between regional markets.

Masson also spoke to the short and long-term benefits of LNG. She pointed out that in the short term, a fuel shift in power generation and public transport would help reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and particulate matter, which harm the environment and health. "Early adopters of LNG will enjoy economic benefits given that the price of the fuel is currently lower than the price of petroleum-based fuel alternatives. The price of LNG has historically been more stable relative to oil derivatives, making long-term energy planning more feasible for the government and the private sector," she said.

In the long term, greater fuel diversity will result in enhanced competition between fuels, which may have an overall positive price impact for the entire energy sector. "Once the LNG infrastructure is in place and import volumes reach a certain critical mass, other sectors may benefit, including public transport, mining, and manufacturing," Masson said.

The IDB is a major sponsor of the inaugural natural gas conference scheduled for October 4-6 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.