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Some US$1.8 billion, or 93 per cent of Jamaica’s export earnings, was spent by the government to import 30.8 million barrels of petroleum products in 2006.
According to Director of Energy, Economic and Planning Unit at the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, Yvonne Barrett-Edwards over the period 1995 to 2006, there was a “constant increase” in the consumption of petroleum. During that period, she said, the country consumed about 25 million barrels of petroleum.
Speaking at the Portmore Chamber of Commerce and Industries General Meeting at the Lion’s Civic Centre, Portmore on Thursday, (February 21), Mrs. Barrett-Edwards said there was need to seriously address the energy situation in the country, pointing out that the government spent approximately US$2 billion on petroleum products in 2007. “The figures are in and we expect that it is going to be even higher for 2008,” she added. However, she noted, that there was no control over the price of oil, since this was set on the international market, but that “we do have control over our consumption.”
According to Mrs. Barrett-Edwards, there is need to change the behaviour of Jamaicans as it relates “to waste and general inefficiencies to one of responsible sustainable management and proper use of our energy resources.”
To achieve this, she said, there was need for more public education programmes. She informed that in January, the Ministry, through communication consultants, embarked on a two-week islandwide public consultation on the Green Paper on Jamaica’s Energy Policy. The meetings were held to allow stakeholders, investors in energy, the productive sector and interested persons to express their concerns and make recommendations. “From those consultation meetings, we realized that there is serious need for public education and so as a Ministry we will be looking at beefing that up some more,” she said. Sectors which Mrs. Barrett-Edwards said consumed the highest volume of petroleum included transport, electricity and bauxite. She said Jamaica will be exploring for oil and in January 2008, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica issued 12 licenses to overseas investors to search for oil.
Attending the event were Customer Service Manager of the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited, Sonia Jones, who spoke on energy conservation, Portmore residents, members of the Portmore Chamber of Commerce and students from the University of Technology (UTech).