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The government of Jamaica is expected to take part in two regional energy conferences within the next three weeks to discuss among other things, the rise in world oil prices and alternative energy sources.
From January 27 to 28, the country will participate in Platt’s annual Caribbean Energy Conference in Miami, Florida, and the Third Meeting of Caribbean Energy Ministers and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the PetroCaribe Initiative from February 6-9 in the Bahamas.
Information Minister Senator Burchell Whiteman, who made the disclosure at yesterday’s (Jan.17) post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, said that Jamaica would use the Miami conference to create further interest in and invite bids for oil and gas exploration in the current licensing round. A presentation will also be made on mechanisms to obtain the optimal energy mix.
Meanwhile, discussions at the meeting of Energy Ministers in the Bahamas will further initiatives being pursued under the framework of PetroCaribe, in accordance with decisions taken at the Second Meeting of Energy Ministers in Montego Bay last August.
At that time, energy ministers from 12 Caribbean countries participated in two days of talks, to develop a regional strategy to address the rise in world oil prices.
Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell, in his address at the opening, said it was important for all countries in the region to realize that developing a competitive refining industry was of the greatest importance to the regional economic integration process.
He observed that oil was essential for the running of Caribbean economies and its supply required long-term investment, available markets and extensive infrastructure. “Energy resources are critical and access to energy at a reasonable price is important for the economic growth of all our countries in the Caribbean,” he stated.
Using Jamaica as an example, Minister Paulwell noted that oil accounted for over 90 per cent of the country’s total fuel consumption and the oil bill had moved from US$813 million in 2003 to about US$1 billion in 2004, absorbing an increasing amount of foreign exchange earnings.
“For these reasons, we are acutely aware of the need to develop strong initiatives in energy conservation. PetroCaribe will undoubtedly provide a means for cooperation in the area of energy, with positive spin-offs for all participants,” he stated.
A letter of intent regarding the upgrading of the Petrojam Refinery is to be signed between Venezuela and Jamaica during the course of the Bahamas meeting.

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