Normalcy to Return to Energy Sector by April


Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell, is again urging Jamaicans to conserve energy, noting that preliminary estimates indicate that it would take some six months for normalcy to return to the energy sector following an explosion and fire damage at the state-owned Petrojam Refinery late last month.
Making a statement to Parliament on the situation yesterday (Nov. 2), Mr. Paulwell stressed that during the recovery period, energy conservation would have to be a “very important component of the strategy to manage energy resources and ensure security of supplies”, as the country would have to find additional foreign exchange to import supplies during the period.
The explosion and the resulting fire did severe damage to the Powerformer Stabilizer tower, T-6 and lesser damage to the adjacent tower T-4, inclusive of pipelines and vessels, the Minister informed.
The explosion took the refinery out of operation, thereby making the country completely dependent on the importation of finished petroleum products. The refinery is usually responsible for 70 per cent of the country’s petroleum requirements, with the deficit products sourced from regional and other markets.
Mr. Paulwell disclosed that the satisfaction of the local market by imported finished petroleum products would cost the country an additional US$3 million per month, bringing the import bill to an estimated US$64 million per month during the period when the refinery is out of commission.
He noted that an immediate and thorough investigation had been ordered into the cause of the explosion and a report is to be submitted. In accordance with the Factories Act, the Ministry of Labour is observing the investigation, which is being carried out by the Commerce Ministry’s internal team and an independent American engineering firm, Becht Engineering Inc.
Turning to the question of adequate supplies of petroleum products for the Jamaican market, Minister Paulwell assured that, “there are adequate supplies of all products in stock at Petrojam including cooking gas, gasoline, diesel oil, jet fuel and heavy fuel oil”.
In addition, he informed, shipments were expected from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, November 6 and government was in the process of negotiating supply arrangements for asphalt, which is critical to the highway construction projects and the recovery from the infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
“Our supply situation is secure,” he emphasized, adding, “adequate supplies are in Petrojam’s storage both in Kingston and Montego Bay and our supply arrangements are in place, admittedly at a greater cost to the country. There should be no need for panic buying as this only serves to create an artificially high demand”.

JIS Social