Jamaica to Drill for Oil, Gas in 2013, Considering Nuclear in Future

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Above: Minister Philip Paulwell

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaica’s Energy Ministry is moving forward with plans to drill for gas and oil in its offshore waters next year, according to Minister Philip Paulwell.

The country has already drilled 11 wells, 10 of which have shown oil, Paulwell said, although not in commercial quantities.

“We are determined now, with better science and technology, to go and find those commercial sources for oil and gas,” said Paulwell, who was speaking at the University of the West Indies this week.

Jamaica is one of a number of Caribbean countries currently exploring offshore oil, including Cuba and Guyana.

Beyond oil and gas, Jamaica could one day produce nuclear power as well.

“We need to find new fuel sources and so we are pursuing natural gas,” he said. “We believe that there is a role for coal, and I am committed one day, for Jamaica to utilize nuclear.”

Jamaica, which has already been undertaking a plan to reduce utility bills in government ministries, needs to look at the way energy is distributed, he said.

“There is a fundamental issue that we have to deal with as a matter of urgency,” he said. “I have to pursue the liberalization of the grid and this is a task that I am firmly committed to and I think we are going to achieve it, because I believe it’s a win-win for all of us.”

Taking advantage of the new resources could be a way to clear out the country’s debt, he said.