Business

Jamaica taking a bold and visionary step — Edens

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Observer reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Print this page Email A Friend!


Chairman and founder of New Fortress Energy, Wesley Edens, has applauded the Jamaican authorities for taking what he believes is a bold and visionary step to diversify the country's energy mix to make it much less dependent on heavy fuel oils.

Edens told the Jamaica Observer that Jamaica brought itself to his company's attention in 2015 when New Fortress was scouting for investment opportunities in the Caribbean.

“We became aware of the public tender process to convert the Bogue Power Plant in Montego Bay from diesel to natural gas…so that is what brought us in, and one thing has led to another. Jamaica is an attractive destination – it has a big tourism base, but it also has a big industrial base,” he explained, speaking following the ground-breaking activity for New Fortress's gas-fired combined heat and power plant at JAMALCO in Hayes, Clarendon, on Friday.

Edens noted that another Caribbean nation – the Bahamas – which had been the company's first place of interest, was in fact now beginning the process to undertake a similar initiative as the Jamaican government did with Bogue.

Work on the US$22.54-million project kicked off in January 2016 in partnership with the Jamaica Public Service Company to convert its 120-megawatt automotive diesel oil plant into a dual facility for automatic diesel oil and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), with the removal of a gas turbine and heat recovery steam generator to make way for the installation of equipment.

Edens is particularly impressed with the support of local state entities and the country's regulatory environment, which facilitated relative ease of setting up shop in the island, compared to other countries.

“The government has been supportive. It takes many people to say 'yes' to get something done, it just takes one or two people to say 'no'. The reality is all over the world, there are a lot of people who say 'no' and that's what keeps stuff from getting done, so we do our part by bringing the capabilities and the willingness to invest and the capital, but we need to have the complement to that – a government and industry support,” he stated.

He pointed out that regulation is very necessary to prevent horrible abuses – such as those which occurred in the United States in the past during the industrial revolution. “We had power plants built next to schools…obviously there was a lack of regulation, so coming up with zoning regulations and environmental regulations was a good thing, that's the positive,” he said. But he noted that the environment can also become a very negative one for eager investors when it is overly burdensome “and it keeps things from getting done”.

“When most people are asked about regulation they will give you the negative view of it impeding business and being unnecessarily difficult to get things done,” he said, pointing to Jamaica's Electricity Sector Enterprise Team (ESET), which he noted largely comprised players from the private sector.

“As a result they were focused on trying to having the right regulatory standards but they also wanted to get things accomplished. It's not that there weren't a number of different roadblocks, but the mindset of the regulators that we dealt with was to identify the roadblock and to identify solutions to those roadblocks and get things done as opposed to just letting the roadblock be the end of the story.”

Edens stressed: “In my experience that's not the norm — that's not the norm in the United States, that's not the norm in most of the places I've done business in the world. It's fairly unique and it's really powerful.”

New Fortress is said to be investing US$1.1 billion in the energy sector and other areas of the economy. Those investments have already begun with the LNG terminal in Montego Bay, and another is to be installed by the summer of 2018.

“That terminal will provide the storage vessel for the LNG, then when it is turned into natural gas it will be piped into Old Harbour and the JAMALCO Plant here (Hayes),” he said.

On the industrial side, New Fortress has contracts with Red Stripe brewery and the University of the West Indies, which Edens said are among “a long list” of other projects, which will round out those US$1.1-billion investments (between on-the-ground investments, logistics, etc). “That brings us to where we are right now,” he remarked.

“There are other things that we think are interesting in the local economy that we are looking at. I am an investor first and an energy person not even second, probably twenty-second,” he quipped, “ I've done a lot of investing in different things. I think Jamaica is a really interesting place and like every developing economy it lacks access to capital, so if you have capital and you have a willingness to invest there are a lot of things that could come. I'm quite confident we will make other material investments here in Jamaica,” he stated.

ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT