JIS News

Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell has mandated the Petrojam refinery in Kingston to conduct a pilot project in 2006 to determine the performance of a cross section of motor vehicles with the ethanol blend. “Ethanol, an oxygenate, blended with gasoline in a mixture of 10 per cent ethanol to 90 per cent gasoline, is an octane enhancer to boost engine performance,” the Minister explained.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Paulwell said that Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether or MTBE, the octane enhancer produced from petroleum, which was currently used in fuels for the transportation sector, was detrimental to the environment, both as a contaminant of ground water and a pollutant of the air from vehicle emissions.
The Minister stated that the planned phasing out of MTBE as the octane enhancer in gasoline would take place in 2007/08, at which time, “every single vehicle will have to use the ethanol blend”.
Mr. Paulwell pointed out that the three-month pilot, which would commence in May 2006, would assist the relevant authorities in “ascertaining the experience of the vehicles used in terms of efficiency when blended with ethanol, what might be necessary for the upgrades so that they [the vehicles] can properly accommodate this blend, and also to work with the various marketing companies to ensure that their premises are properly equipped to deal with ethanol as a blend”.
“We will have to conduct our research carefully, and with the support of our motorcar dealers and interests across the transportation sector, to ensure that our motorists are fully aware of the parameters under consideration,” the Minister added.
In the meantime, Managing Director of Petrojam Limited, Winston Watson pointed out that a tank would be put in place at the refinery’s in-house gas station to contain the ethanol along with a metering device, which would be purchased from overseas. This device, he explained, would measure and inject the required amount of ethanol with gasoline directly to the wide cross section of state vehicles that would be used for the project.
Mr. Watson outlined that the use of the ethanol blend would benefit both the transportation and the agricultural sectors, as ethanol was manufactured from feedstock, which the local sugar cane industry could provide. This, he said, presented an opportunity for the agricultural sector to expand its market.
He said that the transportation sector could view the 10 per cent ethanol blend as, “one good solution for reducing our dependency on petroleum energy”.
The Minister pointed out that ethanol was currently receiving worldwide recognition as a replacement for a portion of non-renewable petroleum energy and as a clean air alternative. He added that Jamaica “will move quickly to ethanol-blended fuels, for the benefit of our environment, our ethanol industry and the nation’s petroleum import bill”.