NEW Fortress Energy and JAMALCO yesterday broke ground for a liquefied natural gas combined heat and power plant in Hayes, Clarendon, in New Fortress’s ongoing US$1 billion worth of investments in the energy sector and other areas of the economy.
Ninety-four megawatts of baseload energy from the power plant will be sold into the national grid, and the project is expected to provide 450 jobs for Jamaicans during construction.
Major components of the US$265-million operation will include floating storage and a regasification terminal, the installation of a pipeline from Rocky Point port to the JAMALCO refinery, the construction of the natural gas power station at Hayes, and the construction of an electricity distribution network.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, which took place at the JAMALCO energy refinery in Hayes, founder and chairman of New Fortress Energy Wesley Edens gave the thumbs up to the Office of Utilities Regulation, which he said had played a major role in facilitating the investment.
“This has been by far the best regulatory environment that I have dealt with,” he said.
Edens said the advancements in the diversification of Jamaica’s energy sector are remarkable.
“Two years ago virtually a hundred [per cent] of the energy in Jamaica was generated by oil, and two years from now virtually a hundred per cent of it will be natural gas or renewables… The country has been upgraded [in] its credit rating by Moody’s, citing specifically the energy footprint. Energy costs [are] 30 per cent lower and the environment is much cleaner, so with this I think Jamaica is a model not only for the Caribbean but throughout the world. It’s remarkable what has been accomplished here,” he said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who broke ground with the investors, stressed that a US$1-billion investment in Jamaica was significant, and that it was a “major risk”, but with the right regulatory and political environment around policy the economic risks are reduced.
He said it was a win-win partnership for Jamaica and New Fortress, with the plant benefiting from reduced cost, increased reliability and efficiency, placing it in the top 25 per cent of energy efficiency plants in the world, while the Jamaica Public Service Company will benefit from lower costs, which will trickle down to consumers.
Holness said numerous investment projects are slated to begin while others are under way, such as highway and hotel projects, information technology projects, and business process outsourcing projects.
But he stressed that Jamaica’s culture of bureaucracy remains an issue.
“What we lack is a sense of urgency to get things done. It is almost a cultural thing. We have to get more business-oriented, we stand too much on ceremony,” Holness said, noting that “what [New Fortress] has experienced in this project is only because the political directorate created that path [and] walked it through. It is not the experience of all investors, and particularly not the experience of local Jamaican investments.”
The country imports 20.4 billion barrels of oil annually at a cost of up to US$2 billion, and according to energy experts, Jamaica will need another 400 megawatts of additional capacity by 2030. Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley noted that next year there will be numerous other opportunities opening up in the energy sector.
Under the national energy policy, Jamaica is seeking to get 30 per cent of its energy consumption from renewables in another 13 years.