Opposition Spokesman for Industry, Commerce and Energy, Mr. Gregory Mair today described as damning developments from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) noting that state owned oil refinery Petrojam has been overcharging on fuel for electricity generation over an extended period. This he says has reinforced his initial call for the government to have an independent audit of the contract between Petrojam and the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) conducted and table the results in Parliament.
Mr. Mair says that there is no transparency in the Price Mechanism used by Petrojam nor is there in the negotiating of the sale of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) by Petrojam to JPS. Any unfair pricing he said is inevitably a cost to the Jamaican people and not the Government as it is the consumer that pays for the fuel, whether at the gas pumps or via JPS bills.
Mr. Mair also said that, the fuel component in our electricity bills has risen a whopping 300 percent (from 6.4 to 23.6 US cents/kWh) in the last 10 years.
He says he is deeply concerned about Petrojam and JPS sitting down in a “closed room” and negotiating a J$60 Billion annual contract on their own as JPS is a monopoly regulated by the OUR while Petrojam is a defacto monopoly, regulated by no one.
In explaining the existing structure Mr. Mair said that 50% of the output of Petrojam’s refinery is Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) which is what the generators of JPS uses. Petrojam he said needs to sell this HFO for which it has limited options as HFO has low market value. Petrojam then wants to ensure that it gets a good price for a type of fuel that basically nobody wants and that JPS buys and recovers from the consumer. In other words, it is the Jamaican electricity consumer who is paying for the HFO purchased by JPS at Petrojam.