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KINGSTON — The Steering Committee set up by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, to handle the country’s push towards the implementation of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, held a pre-bidding meeting on September 26 for interested parties.

The session, held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, saw input from several experts in the natural gas industry, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), prospective bidders, and from Solicitor General, Douglas Leys.

Government had sought the assistance of Mr. Leys in examining the legal issues contained in the Office of the Contractor General’s (OCG) report on the award of a contract related to the project.

Chairman of the Steering Committee, Christopher Zacca, said the bidding process comprised two components – one to do with the setting up of the Floating Storage and Regasification Terminal, and the other for the supply of natural gas.

He said that investment in the project is geared towards the private sector, which will have control of the board to be set up to manage the project.

“A clear mandate from the Cabinet to me and to the committee was that it cannot involve any Government exposure and clearly, the private sector is not going to put up their money without having full control over it. The board will be appointed by the investors,” he informed.

Mr. Zacca stated that the LNG project is critical to the country’s development, in terms of meeting the needs of business and industry and driving down energy cost for the general population.

“In terms of bauxite and alumina, the whole industry faces high energy cost in Jamaica because of its reliant on oil, and we believe that LNG is an option, which would create a more vibrant and cost competitive industry,” he argued.

The first phase of the LNG project is focused on three key end users, Jamalco, Jamaica Public Service (JPS), and Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP), which have made written submissions indicating their commitment to purchase gas from the project.

Other interested parties can have their concerns and questions addressed at another pre-bidding meeting slated for Thursday (Sept. 29) at the Pegasus.

Incorporating natural gas in Jamaica’s energy mix will enhance security of energy supplies, and achieve a greater degree of long-term stability in energy prices, while fostering environmental sustainability in energy provision.

 

By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter