Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Ja: Cutting oil deals with Venezuela

JAMAICA COULD benefit from increased Venezuelan assistance in combating high oil prices that have led to massive increases in the cost of gasolene at the pump.

Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Com-merce, Science and Technology, said yesterday that Jamaica is one of several regional nations that will benefit from a recently proposed initiative spearheaded by South American oil giant Venezuela.


The proposal, called the 'Petrocaribe Initiative', is intended to support Caribbean states as well as other countries within the Americas and will include the disbursement of shares in the Petrocaribe entity to participating nations. The initiative entails the refining of crude oil from Venezuela, shipping to Caribbean states (possibly in Petrocaribe owned/contracted vessels), wholesaling to existing retailers as well some retailing.

The refining could be undertaken in Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Cuba.


"I don't think the country is aware that even though the price has been increasing (especially) in the last couple of months, that Jamaica has always been able to get a discount from the deal with Venezuela," said Minister Paulwell during yesterday's weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

The deal already in place with Venezuela relates to the Caracas Agreement and the San José Accord. "We believe this new initiative will enhance that and there will be more benefits because we are going to become shareholders in this company that will be involved in the processing and distribution of oil," said Minister Paulwell, who has portfolio responsibility for energy.

Yesterday, he also noted that Venezuela has expressed interest in participating in the upcoming multimillion-dollar expansion of the Petrojam refinery in Kingston. He announced that Cabinet has approved the establishment of a technical team to develop a finance package to fund the expansion from 35,000 to 50,000 barrels per day.
How could all of this be possible especially in light of Venezuela's mismanagement of their oil industry?


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