Friday 6 December, 2019

Word of caution from the PM amid celebration of LNG terminal launch

Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses attendees at a ceremony on Friday to officially commission into service New Fortress Energy’s Floating Storage and Regasification Terminal off the coast of Old Harbour Bay in St Catherine, a picture of which is shown on the banner in the background. (Photos: JIS and Reginald Allen)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness addresses attendees at a ceremony on Friday to officially commission into service New Fortress Energy’s Floating Storage and Regasification Terminal off the coast of Old Harbour Bay in St Catherine, a picture of which is shown on the banner in the background. (Photos: JIS and Reginald Allen)

Amid an all-round reflective and celebratory setting on the uppermost deck of New Fortress Energy’s newly-commissioned Floating Storage and Regasification Terminal 3.6 miles off the Old Harbour Bay coastline in St Catherine, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had a quiet word of caution for Jamaicans.

The terminal, to which the large ship, ‘Golar Freeze’ is attached, represents the latest and most pivotal stage of bringing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Jamaica. Supply is already in place to facilities in Montego Bay, St James, and now the soon-to-be completed 190-megawatt Jamaica Public Service (JPS) power plant in Old Harbour Bay through natural gas pipelines, and similarly, Jamalco bauxite plant in Clarendon.

Shrugging off formalities in favour of unity, celebration and reflection on the long and challenging journey - before finally realising the Caribbean’s first such facility, which is expected to result in reduced energy costs locally - Holness warmly embraced the frontline and key contributors to the effort. These included present and former energy ministers, Fayval Williams and Phillip Paulwell, project driver, Dr Vin Lawrence; Chris Zacca, and the remainder of the implementation team, along with New Fortress’ head, Wes Edens.

In thanking all for the overall effort that spanned different political administrations, Holness on Friday said the country has been through some tough experiences, but cited the strength of Jamaica’s democracy to have allowed for the ‘very complicated” project to have been continued amid the change of government.

Dr Vin Lawrence addresses the ceremony.

“I am in a celebratory mood today,” declared Holness at the official commissioning into service of the terminal that, when the new JPS Old Harbour Bay power plant is completed, should bring the contribution of LNG to electricity generation nationally to approximately 45 per cent.

But amid the joy of the occasion and the clear unity of purpose that all concerned agreed was critical to the success of New Fortress’ LNG investment in Jamaica - a figure Energy Minister Williams said stands at approximately US$1 billion so far - Holness urged Jamaicans to recognise the need to protect the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), which has been at the centre of controversy linked to the Ministry of Education since the sudden firing of then Education Minister, Ruel Reid, by Holness himself in March of this year.

In repeatedly stating the “need to protect the Caribbean Maritime University", the prime minister said the specialised learning institution “is a critical part of growing, establishing and expanding this LNG industry in Jamaica”.

New Fortress Energy's new terminal launch

He pointed to estimates that LNG, which has been accepted to be a much cleaner fuel than diesel oil, is approximately 30 per cent cheaper than diesel, and said it is not only important to seek to reduce the cost of energy locally, but to also to reduce the cost of energy generation to the environment.

“We are demonstrating that we can put in place the necessary investments, build infrastructure that both reduces the cost to the consumer, but most importantly, reduces the cost to the environment, and I think this is a good example of that. It’s a win-win for all,” said Holness.

He also cited that other major entities nationally, including Red Stripe, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTU), Caribbean Products, Appleton, IGL, CB Group, Clarendon Distillers, Wisynco and Seprod, are either already being supplied or soon to be supplied with LNG from New Fortress Energy.

In fact, only hours later, the prime minister and members of his team, including Minister Williams, were on board an LNG-powered JUTC bus on a guided tour in the Corporate Area, as part of the bus company’s pilot effort to gradually switch to the new fuel.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left) makes a point to Managing Director of Von’s Motor and Company, John Von Strolley (right), while enjoying a ride on a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus alongside Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Fayval Williams, from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to the Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew. The bus company is finalising a pilot project for a scheduled roll-out in September of several buses using LNG.

Minister Williams told the audience at the launch ceremony that since its introduction locally, significant strides have been made with liquefied natural gas.

“Just as history was made when natural gas was introduced in Jamaica’s energy mix in October of 2016, at the JPS Bogue power plant (in Montego Bay), this terminal signals another bold and significant step towards the creation of a modern, efficient, diversified, environmentally-sustainable energy sector,” she said.

Opposition Spokesperson on Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, who represented Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips, also welcomed the new facility, noting that it “represents a statement of maturity, a statement in leadership,” because the LNG project spans different political administrations.

The first leg of the project involved the building of New Fortress’ state-of-the-art LNG terminal in Montego Bay in 2016, which converted the JPS 120-megawatt Bogue power plant from diesel to natural gas.

Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Fortress Energy, Wes Edens, expressed pleasure that when the company came to Jamaica four and a half years ago, he found a country that “had the political will for the change that is necessary to switch from distillate fuels to a cleaner, brighter and more environmentally friendly future.”

He said: “Jamaica is now a model for the rest of the Caribbean… This is another way station on the journey that for us begins in Jamaica and is spreading around the Caribbean and the rest of the world.”

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