Jamaica and Venezuela last night reached an agreement for the long-awaited upgrade of the Petrojam refinery.
The agreement was signed by Jamaica’s Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley and his Venezuelan counterpart Nelson Martinez in Caracas.
“We finally signed the deal after 10 years,” an upbeat Dr Wheatley told OBSERVER ONLINE a short while ago, after returning home from the Venezuelan capital.
He said the upgrade will meet Jamaica’s requirement of “55,000 barrels per day when the facility is up and running”.
“First of all, we’ll be able to fully satisfy all our domestic demand and have additional supplies to export to other Caribbean countries,” Dr Wheatley said.
The upgrade, he said, will cost an estimated US$850 million to US$1 billion “depending on the technology that is employed”. However, the Jamaican Government is hoping that the cost will not rise above the US$850 million.
The upgrade was part of the agreement when State-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) bought a 49 per cent stake in the local refinery in 2008 for US$63.5 million.
However, a number of factors, including increases in the price of oil on the international market, prevented the partners from going ahead the upgrade.