Jamaica moving ahead with attempt to buy back Venezuela’s shares in petroleum refinery
KINGSTON – A team from Venezuela is expected to visit Jamaica to continue discussions on the proposal for Jamaica to repurchase the Spanish-speaking nation’s 49 per cent shareholding in Petrojam Limited.
Venezuela owns 49 per cent of Petrojam – Jamaica’s sole petroleum refinery – through the state-owned PDV Caribe, a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley, has not given details of the offer, saying that it is “a commercially sensitive matter, the details of which cannot be disclosed publicly at this time”.
However, he told Parliament recently: “We have been assured that the offer will be reviewed and considered by the Venezuelan Government, with a view to reverting to us shortly.”
Dr Wheatley said the necessary steps are being taken to safeguard the country’s assets, while ensuring energy security for the country.
Last month, he and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson-Smith led a delegation to Venezuela to formally make an offer to PDV Caribe.
He stressed, however, that if the repurchase was successful, it would not mean that Jamaica would be abandoning PetroCaribe.
“During our discussions, we recognised and expressed our gratitude to the Venezuelans for affording us the benefits of the PetroCaribe agreement and we assured them that the repurchase of the 49 per cent shares in Petrojam was to ensure that we are in control of our energy security going forward and, more particularly, that we are able to undertake the necessary upgrade to our refinery,” Dr Wheatly said.
The Government’s attempt to take full control of the company comes after an Executive Order by United States President Donald Trump, last year, which imposes sanctions targeting the Government of Venezuela and its state-owned entities.
Dr Wheatley reported that since the announcement of that Executive Order, “the relationship between Petrojam Limited and PDVSA has come under intense scrutiny, both locally and internationally.”