Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson, has assured the country that the supply of petroleum products will not be affected by Monday’s accident at the Petrojam Refinery.
“There is no shortage of fuel; there is no crisis,” Mr. Robertson told journalists attending a media briefing at Petrojam’s Marcus Garvey Drive plant, Kingston, on Wednesday (June 3).
The Minister also outlined a number of options which are being pursued to ensure an adequate supply of petroleum products.
He said that investigations have commenced into the accident at the dock, in which the oil tanker, M/T Great News, which was transporting crude oil to the Petrojam Refinery, collided with the facility where it was scheduled to off-load crude oil. The damage has temporarily put the dock out of service.
The Minister revealed that a master mariner has been assigned to conduct the investigations.
The briefing was preceded by a tour of the damaged pier and ship by journalists, officials of the Ministry and the Port Authority of Jamaica, Mr. Robertson and State Minister, Hon. Laurence Broderick.
Port Authority Chairman, Noel Hylton, said that the investigations would involve interviewing several interests, including the Captain of the M/T Great News and the crew of the tugboat which piloted the vessel. He also hinted at the possibility of an inquiry into the matter which, he said, would depend on what emerges from the investigations.
Mr. Robertson was unable to say what caused the collision, but he dismissed suggestions of inexperience on the part of the pilot assigned to guide the tanker, noting that the individual has 15 years experience.
“He has docked that same ship twice before, and he has (guided other vessels) into that facility many times, (including) nights, in his 15-year career,” the Minister confirmed.
Sections of the Petrojam dock (left), and the M/T Great News, which were damaged during the collision on June 1.
Damage was preliminary estimated at $6 million, described as a “rough” figure by the Minister, who added that assessments were still being done. He said that the facility is fully insured.
Measures are also being pursued to safeguard inventory levels, the Minister said. These include completing the installation of two pipelines from the former Esso Kingston terminal, situated to the east of the damaged dock, to the refinery.
“These two pipelines will move liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), automotive diesel oil and heavy fuel oil. We believe those should be completed within seven days,” the Minister informed.
In addition, Mr. Robertson said the Ministry is exploring the possibility of importing petroleum into Petrojam’s Montego Bay Terminal. This option, he contended, would enable them to supply the island with “some finished products” from that facility.
“We are also exploring the use of other companies’ storage (facilities) that would help us (to supply products) along the south coast,” the Minister noted.
“We have also pursued finding floating pipelines (and) we have located them very close to Jamaica. Now, it’s a matter of a timeline; when we would get them in? We are going to ask Mr. Hylton and the Port Authority to pursue that aggressively,” he explained.
Mr. Robertson said efforts are also being made to off-load the crude oil from the M/T Great News, adding that there is confidence that the ship can be brought alongside the dock, almost immediately or very soon, to effect that exercise.
“They will be having a conference with the captain on board, to discuss that matter and to inform how that will be done. The offloading would have to be done alongside the damaged dock, and that would require floating pipelines to be brought in quickly,” he said.
“Our major initiative is to get the refinery back up and running,” he added.
Regarding the containment of the minor oil spill, Mr. Robertson commended Petrojam’s staff on their efforts at protecting the environment.