Energy Minister, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, says also concerned about the significant decline in the quantity of oil Jamaica now receives from crisis-hit Venezuela.
The country is currently facing a period of economic and political instability.
Yesterday Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, announced that Jamaica’s oil imports from Venezuela have fallen from approximately 24,000 barrels per day to just over a thousand.
Mrs. Johnson Smith said plummeting oil imports from Venezuela aren’t an issue ‘at this time’. But Minister Wheatley says it ‘naturally’ raises ‘some concern’.
Dr. Wheatley says the Petrocaribe arrangement between Jamaica and Venezuela makes it ideal for us to get oil from the South American country.
He says the government will be monitoring the situation very closely.
The Petrocaribe arrangement allows Jamaica and about 17 other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America get thousands of barrels of oil from Venezuela on a concessionary basis.
It started in 2005 under the leadership of then Venezuelan President, the late Hugo Chavez.
In the meantime, Opposition Spokesman on Energy, Phillip Paulwell, is cautioning against labeling the plummeting oil imports from Venezuela as a ‘crisis’
Mr. Paulwell — who’s also immediate former Energy Minister — says Jamaica benefits more from
the PetroCaribe arrangement when oil prices are high globally. But he says during times of low oil prices — as is the case now — that benefit declines.
However, Mr. Paulwell says he’s concerned about the how the crisis in Venezuela may impact the agreement between Jamaica and the South American country to upgrade the local Petrojam oil refinery.
The government has been pushing to have the refinery upgraded in line with the Jamaica Public Service Company, JPS’s reduction in the demand for heavy fuel oil this year.
This, as the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is to begin using gas to power its new plants.