The offer was made today by the Minister with responsibility for Energy, Dr. Andrew Wheatley at a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela.
A high level team which includes Minister Wheatley, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith and technocrats went to Venezuela to make the offer.
During a sitting of the House of Representatives last November, Dr Wheatley revealed that an executive order by US President Donald Trump — blocking entities from doing business with Venezuela — had been affecting Petrojam’s operations.
The order prohibited US companies from doing business with Venezuelan companies and led to banks in the US being reluctant to finance Petrojam’s oil purchases on the international market, due to the company’s part-Venezuelan ownership.
Dr. Wheatley said the Jamaican government would be willing to fast-track the purchase and has received an updated valuation on the 49-percent shares held by the Venezuelan government.
Dr. Wheatley says the government has already allocated funds in the upcoming budget to make the purchase.
The Energy Minister said Venezuela had not fulfilled its commitment to upgrade the Petrojam refinery due to the cash constraints facing the Venezuelan government.
This he said was despite repeated commitments to begin the upgrade, including one as recently as February last year, .
The upgrade is expected to cost between USD$850-million and USD$1-billion.
The expansion would increase Petrojam’s capacity from 36,000 to 50,000 barrels of oil per day – enough to meet Jamaica’s energy needs.
The Jamaican government decided to seek to buy the Venezuelan stake in an effort to take steps towards upgrading the aging Petrojam refinery.
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