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The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), has brought together stakeholders from a wide cross section of public and private sector agencies, to participate in discussions on the introduction of natural gas as a means of diversifying Jamaica’s energy sources.

The discussions are part of a two-day workshop, organised by the Ministry’s Energy Security and Efficiency Enhancement Project (ESEEP), which is being held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Addressing the opening session today (November 28), State Minister in the MSTEM, Hon. Julian Robinson, said that high energy cost is crippling the economy, accounting for approximately 15 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Stating that Jamaica is on an unsustainable path, Mr. Robinson said there is “a fierce urgency of now, with respect to the energy challenge that we face in the country”.  

He noted that “any successful implementation of a (energy) diversification policy requires the buy in, support and full participation of all the stakeholders, with the Government being a critical one”.

“All of us need to be on the same page in terms of how we move forward with the energy, and while I know that there have been some uncertainties with the LNG project and a shifting in terms of the Government’s role, the commitment to diversification remains. Identifying cheaper sources of fuel remains, and, as an administration, I would say this is the number one priority for us,” the State Minister said.

Principal Director of the Energy Division in MSTEM, Fitzroy Vidal, informed that the workshop, which is being held under the theme: ‘Introduction to Natural Gas, Towards Diversifying Jamaica’s Energy Matrix’, will examine the gas sector in the context of the National Energy Plan diversification strategy.

Other objectives outlined included: identifying environmental and socio-economic issues and opportunities in relation to the introduction of natural gas to Jamaica; to sensitise potential natural gas users on issues relating to the gas sector such as procurement, transportation and environmental matters; and understanding the technology and the individual parts and location of the LNG supply chain, which includes lessons from similar gas sector programmes locally.

The main facilitator for the workshop was Dr. Yvonne Barton, an expert in Italian energy markets and regulation, and a specialist in the development of LNG receiving and re-gasification facilities.

Dr. Barton said that Jamaica’s energy policy should address the energy market itself and the infrastructure that supplies it, and concluded that LNG compared more favourably than other sources.

“The first goal is that we should be aiming for an energy market that is more efficient and where energy is conserved. It’s fairly clear that even disregarding cost, even at the same price, gas is most efficient, particularly if we are to use it in industrialised processes using combined heat and power,” she stated.

She pointed out also that LNG is a very diverse source, is very reliable, and has security of supply, which has been demonstrated time and again; can have lower unit cost, and emits far less carbons than other fuel sources.