JAMAICA | Paulwell proposes a re-engagement with PetroCaribe

JAMAICA | Paulwell proposes a re-engagement with PetroCaribe

KINGSTON,  Jamaica, April 13, 2022 - Opposition spokesman on energy, Phillip Paulwell, is proposing that Jamaica revisits the PetroCaribe arrangement with Venezuela, as it is the best near-shore and reliable source of crude oil for Jamaica.

Paulwell told Parliament  that “It is very likely that there will be a mad scramble by countries to find new sources for fuels as further sanctions against Russia escalate” and “the only realistic, near-shore and reliable source of crude oil and finished products is Venezuela.”

Making his contribution to the 2022 Sectoral debate on Tuesday, Paulwell said Jamaica’s decision to opt out of the PetroCaribe agreement “was a most glaring act of ungratefulness shown to Venezuela by Jamaica.”

President of Venezuela Nicholas Maduro (left), is greeted by  then Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, on his arrival at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James  for the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Summit of the PetroCaribe Agreement.President of Venezuela Nicholas Maduro (left), is greeted by then Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, on his arrival at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James for the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Summit of the PetroCaribe Agreement.“This ungraciousness, Madam Speaker notwithstanding the billions of US Dollars benefits throughout the course of the PetroCaribe Agreement, but also the US$1.5B write off Jamaica received of our debt to Venezuela.”

But Venezuela is currently under US sanctions, which quite understandably the government of Jamaica (GOJ) is not going to violate,” he said. 

“However, there is another approach, one which will require [Jamaica] employing good  diplomatic skills,” the Opposition Spokesman proposed.

“As the sanctions remain a block to any trade with Venezuela, it is now necessary for the GOJ to approach our US partners requesting special dispensation to overcome the sanctions,” Paulwell suggested.

Paulwell, a former Energy Minister under the PNP, recalled that in 2013, the US government had expressed great reservation about the Petrocaribe Agreement with Venezuela.

“There was discernible concern in Washington about the growing close relationship between Venezuela and certain CARICOM states. We were asked to attend a summit in Washington to discuss the issues. The summit was chaired by then Vice President Joe Biden.”

“To the credit of the United States, all member states were invited and were in attendance. We used the opportunity to speak certain truths to our American friends.

We not only defended our position to continue with the Petrocaribe arrangement, but we also challenged the US administration to assist us with our energy security issues,” Paulwell reminded the Parliament. Out of that summit in Washington came the following, he reminded:

“1. A Letter of Intent for energy cooperation signed between the US Energy Secretary and myself;

2. Jamaica becoming the first Non-NAFTA country to get access to US LNG supplies. That is how New Fortress Energy emerged in our market and we acknowledge the more than US $1B investment in Jamaica by that company and the diversification in our fuel sources that was achieved;

3. US support by way of OPIC financing of 2 major renewable energy projects valuing over US$200M in the 36MW wind farm by BMR in Malvern, St. Elizabeth and the 20MW solar farm by WRB in Content, Clarendon.”

“That is how diplomacy works. Principled discussions, speaking truths to our friends and pursuing our best interest which involved the participation of our CARICOM sovereign siblings and in the spirit of collective cooperation among friendly nations in the interest of our respective peoples.”

The PetroCaribe Energy Co-operation Agreement, formally established on June 29, 2005, was an oil alliance between Venezuela and 16 other Caribbean and Central American nations, including 15 CARICOM member states, Haiti, and Honduras, to purchase oil on preferential payment conditions.

This facility allowed for oil to be purchased up front at between five and 50 per cent of market value, with a grace period of one to two years to commence making the remaining payments.

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