Wed | Feb 24, 2021

Paulwell: Gov’t failed to implement bad gas recommendations

Published:Tuesday | February 19, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Shadow Minister on Energy Phillip Paulwell is scolding the Government for what he calls a failure to implement recommendations from the 2016 bad-gas saga.

In a statement yesterday, Paulwell called on Energy Minister Fayval Williams to update the nation on the implementation of recommendations by the Petroleum Trade Reform Committee (PTRC) that investigated the substandard product in the market in 2015.

“I am asking the minister to clarify whether the PTRC and the relevant agencies had ceased its implementation meetings since October 2016 and what steps she intends to take to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented to guarantee quality standards in Jamaica’s petroleum sector,” said Paulwell.

He was responding to a Sunday Gleaner article in which mechanics and a Petrojam employee expressed concerns about the quality of the gas currently on the market, pinpointing issues with a number of vehicles and saying it could cause lasting damage.

“I am extremely surprised to hear of new reports of the possible existence of bad gas in the petroleum retail sector, as Cabinet had accepted the report from the PTRC on August 22, 2016, and agreed to implement a series of recommendations. Apart from the ministerial document setting out specifications for unwashed gum, it was now apparent that both Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley and Prime Minister [Andrew] Holness, in his capacity as minister of energy, failed to follow up and to ensure that the events of 2015 were not repeated,” Paulwell said in a statement yesterday.

No excuses

He said the report was fully accepted by the Holness Cabinet, and as a result, there should be no excuses for the failure to implement the recommendations.

Yesterday, three regulatory and oversight groups also responded to the concerns that the country might be heading towards another round of bad gas, saying that they have no evidence of contaminated fuel in the marketplace.

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) and the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) insist that, so far, they have not received any such reports.

“This morning, members of the respective boards of directors and relevant executive teams convened a joint meeting to discuss the concerns raised. The CAC has reported that, to date, they have not received any complaints regarding engine damage due to alleged compromised fuel,” a release issued by the groups said yesterday.

The entities said despite having no evidence to corroborate fears of bad gas, they will be increasing monitoring of the sector to give the public greater confidence in the integrity of their fuel supply.

“All fuel entering the market, through legal means, at the point of import or refinery must be certified by the BSJ/NCRA prior to release. Any fuel which fails the specification is detained and barred from release in the market until found to be satisfactory,” the release said. It also urged consumers with complaints to report them to the BSJ and the CAC.

Paulwell is also seeking, among other things, an update on the drafting of a new Petroleum (Quality Control) Bill and Regulations and the establishment of a petroleum inspectorate in the BSJ fully equipped to test samples of petroleum throughout the chain of custody.