Watson back at Petrojam tomorrow

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staf reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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Winston Watson, who spent 13 years as general manager of Petrojam, will return to take charge of the scandal-wracked administration of the Kingston-based oil refinery tomorrow morning.

Watson, who has been the group general manager for Petrojam's parent company, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), since 2013, will have the job of returning the refinery to normality, after weeks of charges, counter charges and scandalous allegations emanating from a probe of its administration by the Opposition-chaired Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of the House of Representatives.

The situation forced Prime Minister Andrew Holness to take over the energy portfolio from former Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley while the investigations progress. However, Holness has resisted repeated calls from the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) to remove Wheatley from the Cabinet while he awaits the results.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz confirmed Wsatson's reassignment Friday night, adding that the decision was taken by the ministry earlier Friday at Jamaica House.

“I know that he will take over as general manager for now, as he has been seconded from the PCJ,” Vaz said.

“I don't know what other changes will be made, but I expect other changes will follow,” he added.

Watson said earlier in a radio interview that the foundation of the oil refinery had been rocked by some of the allegations made over the past few weeks at the PAAC. He said that his first task would be to rebuild the confidence of the staff and public trust.

He said that his knowledge of the company's operations and his familiarity with its staff, as well as the support of the prime minister, will greatly assist him in carrying out his mission.

Watson has more than 25 years experience in senior management in Jamaica, as well as in Barbados and Canada, and is a university- trained engineer. He was appointed general manager of Petrojam in 2000 and, after 13 years in that position, was promoted to general manager for the PCJ Group, which also includes the Wigton Windfarm and Petrojam Ethanol Limited.

Watson's return to Petrojam is expected to stabilise the refinery and create a suitable environment to continue accommodating Petrojam's role in implementing renewable energy solutions and efficiency programmes to achieve certain targets by 2030.

He is known to be strongly supportive of a combination of available energy resources to meet the country's needs.

PCJ is the energy-implementing arm of the Government, and it has interests in a wide cross section of the energy sector. It owns 51 per cent of Petrojam, while Venezuela owns the other 49 per cent, and it also has 100 per cent ownership of both the Wigton Windfarm and biofuels company Petrojam Ethanol Limited.

In addition to refining, PCJ is involved in oil and gas exploration and, while it has focused on enabling renewable energy resources.

PCJ has also been involved with several energy efficiency and conservation programmes with the government as well as other institutions, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the energy ministry to reduce the generation of fossil fuels and improve the use of renewables.

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