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Energy Minister, Clive Mullings, has emphasised the importance of energy diversification to national development, as well as guarding the country against the possible susceptibilities associated with dependence on a sole energy source.
Speaking at the launch of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ)-Petrocaribe Small and Micro Enterprises ((SME) Energy Fund, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Friday (Oct. 10), Mr. Mullings noted the global challenges associated with the movement in the price of oil, and warned that energy diversification should not be used as a knee jerk response to unfavourable global developments.
“(Jamaica’s) Energy Policy has, as its mantra,… diversification. The reason for that is, once you are held hostage, as we are with oil, to any (specific) fuel type, then you are open to the susceptibilities of that and, therefore, we must diversify. We must not (however) see it (diversification) merely as an attempt to deal with a crisis. For growth, we are going to need energy, and to ensure that Jamaica becomes a first world country, we must put in place those plans that will allow for this growth target to be realised,” the Energy Minister said.
In this regard, Mr. Mullings said there is need to “do some big things”, and “look at major projects” such as the upgrading of the state-run oil refinery, Petrojam, in collaboration with the Jamaica Public Service Company, to construct a new plant. This is expected to cost some US$700 million. In addition, he said prospects for hydro energy will also have to be developed.
“So, there are some things that we have to do, and can do, and must do. I believe that when we do that, we will allow for real and true development. I believe the tipping point was reached when oil was at US$147 per barrel, because the world was vulnerable, and it went right down to the householder,” Mr. Mullings emphasized.
He added that the launch of the DBJ-PetroCaribe SME Energy Fund, as well as the projects outlined, are demonstrative of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that Jamaica is positioned in such a way, that it is cushioned from the impacts associated with energy costs.
The DBJ-PetroCaribe SME Energy Fund, is a line of credit, which sees the Development Bank of Jamaica committing US$1 billion. The DBJ will onlend, through approved financial institutions, to small and medium-sized enterprises, to develop alternative renewable energy initiatives.
The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, the University of Technology (UTech), and Jamaica Trade and Invest, are the principal entities partnering with the DBJ in executing the provisions of the fund, which was officially launched by Prime Minister, Bruce Golding. All four organisations also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalising their roles and inputs in the execution of the facility.