September 2016

New Fortress Energy has committed to recurrent environmental monitoring and reporting on site preparation, construction and operation of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and pipeline project to be developed in St Catherine.

At a public consultation with residents of Old Harbour, the American company also promised, as far as is possible, to train and employ persons from the community to work at the facility instead of bringing in skill sets from outside.

The gas will be transported to Jamaica from the United States or other markets to a new offshore terminal at Portland Bight, where it will be regasified and distributed via an undersea pipeline to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) power plant, said Managing Director of Fortress Investment Group Brannen McElmurray at the forum on Wednesday.

The main infrastructure will include a berth and regasification platform; a natural gas pipeline; and an automotive diesel pipeline and other facilities. The terminal is to be located on the western side of Portland Bight, about 2,000 metres from the shipping channel to Port Esquivel. It will have a depth of about 14 metres, sufficient to berth a floating storage unit for the LNG as well as LNG carrier vessels without the need for dredging.

McElmurray said the Port Authority of Jamaica has reviewed the general location and concluded it does not interfere with shipping activities. The floating unit, an LNG carrier refitted to for use as a storage vessel, will be located far enough from shore and, hence, will not be visually obtrusive.

Experts have recommended a 500-metre safety exclusion zone around the floating unit in which navigation is restricted.

However, environmental consultant Dr Carlton Campbell, whose company CL Environmental Limited undertook the environmental impact assessment presented at the public consultation, said that zone was reduced to 200 metres based on complaints from fisherfolk.

The exclusion zone would have denied them access to regular sites where they normally harvest fish.

However, one resident was against the compromise reached, saying the zone should not have been reduced to facilitate more fishing, given that the 500-metre recommendation was made by safety experts.

The LNG terminal being developed through NFE South Holdings will supply gas to JPS, which itself is finalising plans to build an LNG-fired power plant at Old Harbour.

According to the environmental impact assessment, monitoring of various aspects of the New Fortress project will be done by persons appointed by New Fortress Energy, the JPS, and “capable organisations”, the latter monitoring water quality, salinity and dissolved oxygen, among other conditions.

However, some residents suggested that members of the Old Harbour Bay community should be involved in monitoring as they did not entirely trust the National Environment and Planning Agency and the parish council to do so on their behalf.

McElmurray said some of the equipment for the project will be offloaded at Port Esquivel and transported by trailers to the Old Harbour Bay site, giving rise to concerns about road damage.

Campbell assured concerned residents that mitigation measures have been put in place for noise from heavy equipment, access road to facilitate movement of heavy vehicles and equipment, potential negative impact on marine life and various other environmental issues.

He said horizontal drilling would be used for the pipeline to ensure the reef is not destroyed, and that the developers would have to work with the fishing community to safeguard fish pots set to harvest fish.

In the regasification process, New Fortress will heat the LNG using seawater to convert it to natural gas and then release the water back to the sea. Campbell assured residents the water would be cooler at release and so would not affect marine life.

During construction an estimated 225 to 250 persons will be employed, McElmurray said. New Fortress Energy estimates that it can start delivering natural gas to JPS at Old Harbour by the second quarter of 2018.

 

Outside view of International Conference Center in Algiers, Algeria, where energy ministers from OPEC and other oil-producing countries are gathered to attend the opening session of the 15th International Energy Forum Ministerial meeting in Algiers, Algeria.

OPEC nations reached a preliminary agreement on Wednesday to curb oil production for the first time since the global financial crisis eight years ago, pushing up prices that had sunken over the past two years and weakened the economies of oil-producing nations.

Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Qatar’s energy minister and current president of OPEC, announced the deal after several hours of talks in the Algerian capital. The levels must still be finalised at an OPEC meeting in Vienna in November.

The preliminary deal will limit output from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to between 32.5 million and 33 million barrels per day, he said. Current output is estimated at 33.2 million barrels per day.

Benchmark United States crude jumped US$2.38, or 5.3 per cent, to US$47.05 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, was up US$2.72, or 5.9 per cent, to US$48.69 a barrel in London.

Long-running disagreements between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran had dimmed hopes for a deal at Wednesday’s talks.

Iran had been resistant to cutting production, as it is trying to restore its oil industry since emerging from international sanctions over its nuclear program earlier this year. According to Wednesday’s deal, Iran exceptionally will be allowed to increase production to 3.7 million barrels a day, according to Algerian participants at the meeting. It is currently estimated to be pumping around 3.6 million.

The OPEC officials met informally on the sidelines of an energy conference in Algiers to try to find common ground on how to support oil markets.

POSITIVE DEAL

“We reached a very positive deal,” said Nigerian Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu. He said all countries will reduce output but the specific quotas will be set in Vienna in November.

Earlier, Iranian Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh had played down the OPEC gathering, calling it “just a consultation meeting”.

The price of crude oil has fallen sharply since mid-2014, when it was over US$100 a barrel, dropping below US$30 at the start of this year.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer and Iran’s rival for power in the Middle East, appeared to be more amenable to some sort of production limit, certainly more so than in April when OPEC failed to agree on measures to curb supplies.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih this week promised to “support any decision aimed at stabilising the market”.

Over the past couple of years, OPEC countries, led by Saudi Arabia, had been willing to let the oil price drop as a means of driving some US shale oil and gas producers out of business. Shale oil and gas requires a higher price to break even.

Those lower prices have hurt many oil-producing nations hard, particularly OPEC members Venezuela and Nigeria, but also Russia and Brazil.

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NEW YORK — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off on Tuesday here with more than 140 heads of state and government and a yearly tradition of speeches made to the 193 member states of the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

This year marks the 71st session of the UNGA, convened under the theme ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world’, with particular focus on Goal #13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

This high-level week with world leaders is an opportunity for the Kingdom of Morocco to promote the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) set to take place in Marrakech, November 7 to 18. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, will be on hand for a series of side-events and bilateral meetings aimed at reinforcing and promoting Morocco’s climate initiatives, including those on energy, agriculture, capacity building, adaptation and finance, discussing global warming issues affecting the most vulnerable countries and island states, and mobilising the international community for an ambitious global climate action agenda in Marrakech to implement the Paris Agreement.

United Nations Secretary

hosted a special event to encourage parties to ratify the agreement. According to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, as of Tuesday, 29 parties have ratified the agreement, accounting for 40.12 per cent of global emissions. The Kingdom of Morocco will be among approximately 20 countries to deposit their instruments of ratification here during this week’s proceedings, inching closer to the 55 per cent necessary for legal entry into force when the agreement takes effect and becomes legally binding for those countries that have joined.

During his opening remarks, Ban underscored the importance of the climate change agenda.

“With the Paris Agreement we are tackling the defining challenge of our time. We have no time to lose. I urge you to bring the Agreement into force before the end of year. We need 26 more countries equalling 15 per cent of global emissions for entry into force,” he stated.

US President Barack Obama, during his last speech to the UNGA, called on the international community to keep working together to solve global issues including climate change. “The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition,” he stated.

UNGA President Peter Thomson, the first from a Pacific Island nation (Fiji), underscored the need to act on climate change to avoid its negative impacts. “We are steadily moving towards the ratification of the Paris Agreement. We must not delay any further.”

Brazilian President Michel Temer affirmed his country’s commitment to fighting global warming, saying: “Tomorrow I will deposit Brazil’s instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement.”

As the first African head of state to address the UNGA, Idriss Déby Itno, president of Chad, highlighted the importance of working with the international community to fight global warming on the continent. “It’s not about giving charity to Africa, it’s about true partnership with Africa to tackle climate and global challenges,” he said.

The traditional roll call of speeches to the UNGA starts with the United Nations secretary general, followed by the President of the UNGA, president of Brazil (first Member State to speak in the general debate since the 10th session of the General Assembly) and president of the United States (host country). For all other member states, the speaking order is based on the level of representation, preference and other criteria such as geographic balance.

observer

When Blue Mountain Renewables (BMR) began operating its 36-megawatt wind farm in Potsdam, St Elizabeth, a few months ago, the facility became Jamaica’s largest private-sector renewable energy project.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley, who gave the keynote address at the official opening on August 11, pointed out that the wind farm would help to diversify the country’s energy matrix and ease the dependence on imported fossil fuels.

“The wind farm is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by about 66,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, roughly equivalent to taking 13,000 cars off the road,” he informed.

Wheatley also applauded the relationship and assistance the company has given to the neighbouring schools, Munro College and Hampton High, as well as the treatment of farmers in St Elizabeth who were affected during the construction phase.

Principal of Hampton High Heather Murray said that she could literally see the ‘wind of change’ with the advent of the BMR wind project.

She bemoans the fact that nearly a quarter of her school’s budget is spent on high electricity cost, money that could be spent on building a state-of-the-art science laboratory.

“BMR brings hope and we welcome them wholeheartedly. We are also excited about the efforts to go green and we are doing our part here at Hampton. Earlier this year, we swapped all fluorescent light bulbs for more environmentally friendly LED bulbs,” Murray stated.

She also informed that Hampton had installed about 12 solar panels to integrate renewable energy into their electric supply. The panels, combined with small wind turbines on the campus, now provide about one-fifth of the school’s energy needs, she noted.

 

TO SERVE THOUSANDS

 

The BMR Jamaica Wind project will serve thousands of customers annually. Power will be sold to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Company, under a 20-year power-purchase agreement. This electricity is expected to be among the lowest cost sources of power available on the JPS system.

Jamaica currently relies on oil imports to meet 90 per cent of its energy needs. This leaves the country vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices, which can make it difficult to budget and plan effectively.

To ease the dependence, the country has set a target to generate 30 per cent of its energy from local renewable sources such as hydro, wind and solar power by 2030.

President of BMR Bruce Levy said construction of the project was made easier by the cooperation of the Potsdam residents and the appreciation they showed for the work being done in their community.

“We made sure there was significant benefit to the local and wider community, with billions of dollars of direct spending and employment of hundreds of Jamaicans during construction. We say, without any fear of contradiction, that we are committed to community development,” he said.

Levy informed that the wind farm was made possible through a US$62.7 million financing package, including a US$42.7 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); a US$10 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and a US$10 million loan from the IFC-Canada Climate Change Programme. BMR Energy provided an equity investment of US$26.9 million.

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In this August 2016 photo, New Fortress Energy (NFE) hosts a tour of its Montego Bay terminal. Walking the port are (from left) Brendan McElmurray of NFE, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Dr Horace Chang, Attorney General and Member of Parliament for West Central St James, Marlene Malahoo Forte, Ed Marsh of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Johnathan Klion of NFE, and chairman of the Montego Bay Free Zone, Mark Hart.

The plan to build and operate a liquefied natural gas marine terminal and pipeline by American company New Fortress Energy (NFE) will place the facility five kilometres offshore within the Portland Bight area or close to the Goat Islands, according to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) released this month.

New Fortress will execute the marine terminal and pipeline project through affiliate NFE South Holdings Limited. A public consultation on the project is set for September 28 in Old Harbour.

The environmental report done by CL Environmental Consultants Limited on behalf of New Fortress also estimates that the project will provide nearly US$1 billion worth of value over its lifetime and create about 300 direct jobs in the process. Indirect jobs are estimated at 200 to 600.

“Based on this analysis, the final net present value of the project, after application of social cost benefit analysis, turns out to be US$953.4 million. Hence, the project should be undertaken as it has multiple social benefits which are reflected in the final positive NPV of the project,” the report stated.

In arriving at that final figure, the EIA considered the financial profitability measured at market prices; the net benefit of the project measured in terms of economic prices; then adjusted for the impact of the project on savings and investment, income distribution, the impact of the project on merit goods and demerit goods, and the environmental impact.

LNG plan

The project forms part of the wider plan to bring LNG to the national grid. The marine terminal will feed gas to the new 190MW plant that Jamaica Public Service Company is developing at Old Harbour. New Fortress is also supplying gas to JPS’ Bogue plant from a terminal developed in Montego Bay.

The marine terminal EIA report reasoned that consumers, but in particular the manufacturing sector, would benefit from the lower cost of electricity and the establishment of a more reliable power supply.

“This will lead to more possibility of manufacturing that will lead to creation of employment opportunities for unskilled and skilled workers. This is hard to quantify and hence the number are not adjusted for it. Which means that the social benefit stayed below is a lower bound,” the report stated.

The NFE project involves constructing a marine terminal comprising of a vessel berth and offshore offloading and regasification platform.

“The location will be up for approval by the Port Authority of Jamaica in the Portland Bight area of Jamaica,” said the environmental report.

It adds that the facility will accommodate a floating storage unit or FSU vessel for LNG storage and a LNG carrier delivering gas to the FSU. The platform would contain equipment to regasify LNG as well as related process and safety equipment.

“The liquid gas from the FSU would be carefully regasified and the gas would then be released into an undersea pipeline which will be mostly directionally drilled in basically a straight line from the platform to the vicinity of the JPS plant,” stated the EIA, which adds that the pipeline, at some five kilometres in length, would connect to the JPS gas power plant on shore.

“In addition, the project will construct a new, or refurbish an existing, automotive diesel oil line from storage tanks to the renovated power plant in order to enhance the reliability of the facility in case of LNG delivery interruptions.”

The marine terminal will be constructed offshore in the western side of Portland Bight, at a distance about 200 metres from the shipping channel to Port Esquivel in approximately 14 metre of water depth. “This location offers sufficient depth to berth the FSU and the LNG carrier vessels without the need for dredging, yet has sufficient protection from storm wave impacts as a result of the shape of the Bight,” stated the report.

Energy Policy

NFE is expected to supply JPS as well as potential future industrial users with natural gas. The main objective is to provide the Jamaica Public Service Company’s Old Harbour Plant with a cleaner and more cost-effective fuel in furtherance of the goals of the National Energy Policy.

NFE will conduct the project through its NFE South Holding and with the sponsorship of Fortress Investment Group, a global asset management firm with approximately US$70.64 billion of assets under management and an experienced investor in transportation, infrastructure and energy assets around the world, the environmental report said.

The annual fuel savings from the project is projected at US$74.2 million which represents a 38 per cent reduction in cost. The report adds that, assuming a 75 per cent pass-through to the consumer and a 25 per cent mixed of the generating capacity of the JPS, it will result in a seven per cent reduction is consumer prices. This figure matches the fuel savings published in a separate EIA report on the JPS Old Harbour plant upgrade released in April, as the projects are complementary.

JPS, which has a licence from the Jamaican Government to operate the national electricity grid, is constructing the 190MW plant adjacent to its existing Old Harbour facility in St Catherine, which has the capacity to generate 220MW of power. The current plant will be dismantled once the new one is commissioned.

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It’s the latest response to a fossil-fuel disaster.

 

To take better strategic advantage of climate finance opportunities while continuing the courtship of local business interests, Jamaica is looking to have private sector representation on its team to Marrakesh in November.

“In this COP (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), we would want even one private sector representative – and probably, more specifically, from the financial sector – accompanying the delegation,” said head of the Climate Change Division.

“I am going to shamelessly and aggressively pursue that to see if it will happen,” she added.

According to Gordon, who recently assumed leadership of the division, it is critical to have the private sector fully sold on and involved in Jamaica’s climate change response efforts.

“When we have a weather event, then people suffer, but the private sector’s bottom line is [also] impacted severely. So we want the private sector to have a higher profile in this round,” Gordon noted.

Among the climate change impacts facing Jamaica and other small-island developing states of the Caribbean are extreme weather events, including hurricanes and droughts.

Both types of events have seriously affected the performance of the Jamaican economy in the past.

BILLIONS LOST

For example, data compiled by the Planning Institute of Jamaica on nine hurricanes impacting the island between 2001 and 2010 put the estimated cost at more than $111 billion.

The infrastructure sector is said to have accounted for $51.7 billion of that sum, while the transport sector, including roads and bridges, accounted for $44.4 billion.

Climate threats to Jamaica extend beyond extreme weather events to rising sea levels and the associated negative impact on coastal livelihoods. They also include warmer global temperatures and the negative health implications that flow from that, including an increase in diseases such as dengue.

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In this 2012 file photo, an engineer installs traffic lights in Kingston. A new energy project aims to address traffic jams by synchronising stoplights across the Kingston Metropolitan Area.

A new energy-saving project costing US$30 million ($3.8 billion) will seek to reduce traffic jams in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) by synchronising 140 stop lights through a fibre-optic ring, while also cutting energy consumption at scores of government buildings.

The plan requires funding approval from donor agencies Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency. Both are considering loans of up to US$15 million each to a project that has Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica acting as the executing agency.

The project, dubbed ‘Jamaica Energy Management and Efficiency Programme’, involves three components: it aims to fast-track Government’s National Energy Conservation and Efficiency Policy 2010-2030, target a 70 per cent reduction in energy “intensity”, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent, said the IDB.

The traffic component aims to reduce the idle time that cars run on the road, which would reduce gas consumption. It would achieve this by implementing a more robust urban traffic management system – UTMS – which involves linking into the fibre-optic ring already developed by telecoms providers.

The IDB revealed the project late August and released documents on the project profile and environmental analysis. Both documents contain figures which vary slightly when breaking down each component, but the objectives remain consistent.

Regarding the road network, the government will upgrade or implement technologies for nine road segments, most of which are located in Kingston and one in Spanish Town.

39-50 Per Cent Growth

The IDB, utilising data from the National Works Agency (NWA), indicated that traffic growth along some of the KMA’s key corridors has increased 39-50 per cent over a decade, 2005-2015, without any associated improvements in road or intersection capacity.

Additionally, the absence of a complete UTMS to sync the operation of 140 traffic lights, with average spacing of 300 metres in between, remains a key factor causing congestion in the KMA.

“Most of the population commutes within urban centres, resulting in significant amount of congestion, lost time and wasted gasolene during idling or stalled traffic, especially the capital city Kingston,” stated the IDB.

Component I of the project amounts to US$24 million to finance energy efficiency and energy-conservation measures in government facilities, which could span 75 entities, with focus on educational and health facilities. Component II, at US$2.8 million, involves the financing of fuel efficiency in the transport sector. Component III, at US$1.8 million, will finance institutional strengthening for energy planning by developing information systems and training.

In 2015, public-sector facilities consumed some 7.4 per cent of all electricity generated in Jamaica, or approximately 393 gigawatt hours, costing the GOJ around US$36 million in oil imports, or an estimated US$102 million in electricity bills, the IDB said. Of this figure, roughly 22 per cent related to education and health facilities.

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THE Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched ‘Rise Up’, a free multimedia tool for primary and secondary schools in Latin America and the Caribbean to empower students, parents and teachers to address climate change and improve their quality of life through creative, viable and long-term solutions.

“The solution to climate change is very complex. So we created an innovative knowledge tool in a multimedia format, to address part of the problem,” said Emma Näslund-Hadley, project co-ordinator and lead specialist in the Education Division of the IDB.

Rise Up encourages teachers and students to be part of the solution. Instead of teaching science in a traditional way, Rise Up transforms learning at both school and home to harness the potential of youth and adults to mitigate and reverse climate change.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Spain), if we continue at this pace, the “excessive” consumption of natural resources would force humanity to have 1.6 planets to meet demand globally.

To help counter climate change, Rise Up provides instructional videos, lesson plans, video games and a green kit in English and Spanish at no cost on the initiative’s website.

Rise Up is part of the efforts of the IDB and the Inter-American Investment Corporation to combat the effects of climate change facing the region. Last year, the IDB Group announced the goal of increasing to 30 per cent the volume of loan approvals for operations related to climate change by the end of 2020.

Jamaica Observer

Andrew Wheatley

 

A powerful line-up of speakers will address next month’s Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) 14th annual conference in Montego Bay, St James.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is among those confirmed for the conference, set for the Secrets Resorts and Spa, under the theme, “Regulation: Creating a Spectrum of Opportunities in the Caribbean”. It will run over three days – October 26 to 28.

OOCUR, a non-profit organisation, was established in 2002 by the signatories of six utility regulators across the Caribbean, including Jamaica’s Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR). It was established to assist in the improvement of utility regulation, facilitate understanding of regulation issues and undertake research, training and development.

Officials of the OUR will be featured heavily in the conference’s proceedings. Among those expected to participate are Albert Gordon, director general, and Joseph Matalon, the chairman. Also expected to address participants from across the Caribbean is Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of science, energy, technology. This will be his first major conference in Jamaica as portfolio minister in the Holness administration.

The conference should be fully energised when Andrew Thorington, from the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation, presents on the electric utility-regulator relations in the Caribbean. With raging debate in recent times about the need for cleaner energy, there will be a four-member panel discussion on the issue. The participants include Dan Potash, representing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Winston Robotham of the OUR; David Cooke of the Jamaica Public Service; and Dr Xavier Lemaire of University College, London Energy Institute.

The telecommunications regulators are expected to take centre stage on the second day of the conference. Professor Hopeton Dunn, chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, and Julian Wilkins of Caribbean Focus, Global Perspective, are among those expected to make presentations. The day will end with the meeting of the general assembly and then a meeting of OOCUR’s executive council.

Horace Chang, the minister with responsibility for water and housing, will make his presentation on the final day. His ministry has taken on much of the regulatory responsibilities for much of the country’s public bodies and agencies.

There will also be presentations from Skeeta Carasco, regulatory economist at the National Utilities Regulatory Commission, and Dwight DaCosta, deputy chief of party, USAID.

 

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