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No Problem With PetroCaribe Agreement After Venezuelan Election Results, Says Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica Boss

CARGILL... no change can be executed to PetroCaribe before Venezuela’s 2019 national elections

CARGILL… no change can be executed to PetroCaribe before Venezuela’s 2019 national elections

Up to November, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro had been promising more under the PetroCaribe programme to Caribbean countries, announcing more resources for the eastern Caribbean.

Now, following the parliamentary victory by Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) some expect that changes may be in the offing.

The PetroCaribe programme is an agreement between Venezuela and some Caribbean territories to purchase oil on preferential terms. It allows the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to convert 40 per cent of payments annually to a loan repayable over 25 years.

The funds flowing from the arrangement are managed by the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PDF).

Despite the debt buy-back executed this year, Jamaica is still heavily reliant on PetroCaribe funds for low-cost budget support.

In July, Venezuela allowed the GOJ, based on the net present value of the debt outstanding at December 2014, to purchase the PetroCaribe debt totalling US$3.2 billion for US$1.5 billion.

But the Ministry of Finance and Planning still remains the fund’s largest borrower.

Some analysts have posited that the escalating budget constraint faced by the Venezuelan government could trigger a drastic amendment of the PetroCaribe arrangement.

However, chairman of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and advisor to the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining (MSTEM) Christopher Cargill says he expects to see business as usual.

“The election was a parliamentary victory. It was not the national election which is due in 2019. No change can be executed to PetroCaribe before the national elections,” Cargill explained.

He said that in retrospect, Jamaicans should show appreciation for the decade-old arrangement.

“I think Jamaicans really need to be grateful for the benefits received over the years,” he stated, citing the avoided pressure on foreign exchange resources.

Others, including US-based analysts, have projected changes in the offing based upon the effect in Venezuela of declining oil revenues where increasing socio-economic chaos has become evident.

Oil accounts for roughly 96 per cent of export earnings, about 40 per cent of government revenues.

Forecasts have placed oil prices to stay at US$60 per barrel on average due through to 2020 owing to levels of supply from OPEC members and the rapid increase in natural gas and shale oil production.

However, Cargill is convinced that the next three years will hold nothing new for PetroCaribe and its client countries.

He anticipates that a subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) will move ahead to honour its promises to upgrade the Petrojam refinery which it partially owns, a move expected to make the company more competitive regionally.

Jamaica, in 2006, signed an agreement with Venezuela through PDV Caribe, a subsidiary of PDVSA for a 49 per cent stake in Petrojam with a subsidiary agreement to move production from an average of 30,000 to 50,000 barrels of petroleum products per day through expansion.

At last report, PVDSA was reviewing proposals received for the upgrade of the petroleum refinery from two Chinese sources.

The refinery currently supplies about 80 per cent of the local non-bauxite market and 70 per cent of the national market.

A 2008 estimate put the project cost for expansion at US$758 million, funds that Jamaica lacked and which Venezuela has been unable to deliver to date.


Category/ies:Jamaica News, News.
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