Petrojam: Driving human development for 40 years and counting
Petrojam Limited in St Andrew Jamaica's only oil refinery.

ON October 20, 2022 Petrojam Limited will celebrate 40 years since the Government of Jamaica purchased Jamaica's only oil refinery, then owned and operated by Esso, and renamed it Petrojam.

That purchase marked an important milestone in Jamaica's history and a pivotal contribution to the country's economic and energy security. It is therefore no surprise that the lion's share of discussions around the anniversary will focus on Petrojam's contribution to the energy sector. That said, there is another area of Jamaican life to which Petrojam has made a significant contribution, and that is human and social development.

National development amounts to more than economic stability; it requires a complex balance of the financial and social components that underpin any society. For this reason, Petrojam's commitment to serving Jamaica has involved satisfying the country's energy needs and efforts so as to help drive the growth and development of our country's greatest asset, its people. In this regard, Petrojam has provided support for education, fostered human capacity development, and participated in initiatives to preserve the local environment.


Petrojam supports secondary and tertiary education in engineering through our PEP and HJ Fenton scholarship programmes.

Petrojam Limited established the H J Fenton Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship in Engineering in 2003 in honour of the first managing director of Petrojam, the late Hiram James Fenton. The needs-based scholarship covers annual tuition, boarding, and books for three years and is awarded to an outstanding Jamaican student pursuing studies at The University of the West Indies Mona or St Augustine Campus. Five students have received this honour since its inception.

The Petrojam PEP (formerly GSAT) Scholarship programme was started in 2006 to award five-year scholarships annually to outstanding students of the Greenwich All-Age School, located close to the Petrojam Refinery. As part of the company's commitment to advancing the educational development of the nation's youth, the scholarship was extended to students graduating from St Andrew Primary School. Each school's top boy and girl are awarded a scholarship from first to fifth form, or sixth form if the student meets the academic requirements. The scholarship covers tuition and other expenses and provides a new laptop computer. Forty-nine students have received these scholarships since the programme started in 2006.

Human capacity development

Petrojam's staff cohort includes some of Jamaica's most highly trained engineers, scientists and lab technicians. To ensure the best-quality products and services are available to the Jamaican market, technical employees at Petrojam participate in internationally recognised training programmes similar to those received in other jurisdictions. As part of our quality assurance process, our expertly trained laboratory technicians receive mandatory internal training, overseas training with original equipment manufacturers (OEM), and on-site training by overseas equipment suppliers.

Former Petrojam employees have held and continue to hold prestigious technical positions in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and other territories.

The environment

Petrojam continues to support efforts to protect and preserve Jamaica's natural resources through coastal clean-up initiatives, tree planting, and other activities. Regrettably, incorrect waste disposal remains an ongoing concern throughout Jamaica. In very few places is this more evident than on the coastline bordering the Petrojam refinery, where thousands of pounds of garbage enter each year from the Shoemaker and Tivoli gullies. To help minimise the onward flow of this waste to the sea Petrojam has, for many years, invited staff and other volunteers to participate in the annual beach clean-up initiative. In May of this year the frequency of our clean-up activities was increased to a quarterly event. Plastic bottles from our clean-up activities are recycled with the help of the Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ).

This year also marked a further increase in Petrojam's environmentally focused activities as we launched an internal recycling initiative under the tagline "Bin It, There's Use in It". The programme involves collecting and recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bottles used on or off the Petrojam compound. The RPJ processes all approved plastic waste retrieved through both programmes.

The 40th anniversary is a memorable one for Petrojam Limited. It is an occasion to reflect proudly on all that Petrojam has contributed to Jamaica over the past four decades. We remain not just a formidable but resilient entity that has weathered the challenges, resolute in our efforts to fulfill our mission to serve Jamaica's energy needs. As we look to the future we will deepen our commitment to the growth and development of all Jamaicans.

Winston Watson is general manager of Petrojam Limited.

Winston Watson

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