Jamaica Secures Funding for LNG Project

Jamaica has secured funding for a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Anthony Hylton has said, could significantly reduce the island's energy bill.

Speaking at a meeting at the Jamaica High Commission in London on Tuesday, Hylton said that after meetings in Norway, the appropriate technology was identified, while the European Investment Bank has agreed to fund the project.

"I went to Norway to meet with Norwegian companies about a project we have been working on for the last five years, which is the introduction of liquefied natural gas into Jamaica's energy mix. It has a very important objective because it can reduce significantly, Jamaica's energy costs, as an input into production both of goods and services," he stated.

The minister said that a timetable has already been set for the project, which he said, would support the multi-billion dollar bauxite/alumina expansion by Alcoa, and the growth in the rest of the economy, which included the construction of an additional 10,000 hotel rooms over the next four years.

"Alcoa has an impending investment of US$1 to 2 billion for expansion of bauxite/alumina that is contingent on us finding a sustainable form of energy that is also competitively priced. The economic sector is growing tremendously and coming on stream in about a four-year period are 10,000 hotel rooms and we have to find electricity for them. We must have in place by 2009, a competitive and efficient form of energy that can address both the bauxite alumina sector and the overall economy," Minister Hylton told the meeting.

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, the LNG project would be the center of an industrial complex at the Port Esquivel area of Clarendon and this development has already received the support of the private sector in Jamaica and has generated interest from Chinese investors.

Noting that Jamaica's energy cost was now in the region of 24 cents per kilowatt hour, Hylton said that for Jamaica to improve competitiveness, the goal was to bring the cost down to about 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

LNG, he pointed out, was the most efficient form of electricity and "if we can reduce the (energy) price to 10 cents per kilowatt hour, we can transform the economy significantly. That is what we are aiming at and we feel we have a winning formula."

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