Wed | Apr 24, 2024

Vaz: No clear-cut path for Ja in Venezuela oil deal

Published:Friday | February 3, 2023 | 1:01 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson (left) grins while receiving one of 61 computers from Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz (centre) and CEO of the Universal Service Fund, Daniel Dawes, during a handover ceremony at Harm
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson (left) grins while receiving one of 61 computers from Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz (centre) and CEO of the Universal Service Fund, Daniel Dawes, during a handover ceremony at Harman Barracks in Kingston.

Several hurdles will have to be overcome before Jamaica can receive the first barrel of oil under a reported oil deal between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, which was brokered by the United States and under which the island stands to benefit,...

Several hurdles will have to be overcome before Jamaica can receive the first barrel of oil under a reported oil deal between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, which was brokered by the United States and under which the island stands to benefit, according to Energy Minister Daryl Vaz.

Among the obstacles is a claim filed against the Government of Jamaica by the Venezuelan oil subsidiary PDV Caribe, demanding that it be paid a minimum of US$50 million (J$6.5 billion) in core share value as compensation for the forcible takeover of its 49 per cent stake in the local refinery Petrojam.

When the claim was filed, The Gleaner was told that it included supplementary add-ons in relation to dividends and prospective value that could bring the total compensation package sought to US$250 million (J$32.5 billion).

The matter is still unresolved.

“I have now been briefed, and the fact of the matter is there is still a lot of moving parts. So it would be premature for me to say anything in detail because a lot depends on what Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) is prepared to do as it relates to Jamaica. Remember that we do have outstanding issues with them,” Vaz told The Gleaner yesterday.

PDV Caribe is a subsidiary of PDVSA, which is Venezuela's state-owned oil producer.

News surfaced late last month of the US-brokered deal giving Trinidad and Tobago a licence to develop a Venezuelan off-shore gas field.

A Reuters report quoted Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley saying, “A portion of the resulting gas must be exported to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, according to the two-year licence's terms.”

But reacting to the report two weeks ago, Vaz indicated then that he was unaware of the agreement.

“The deal is encouraging,” he told The Gleaner on Wednesday, “but the announcement, in itself, doesn't speak to the intricacies involved, so it is in a very preliminary stage, and I will keep you informed as soon as I have better particulars in terms of how the discussions proceed.”

He added: “If all works out, which is the end result, it will be very good for Jamaica, but I would hate to get anybody's hopes up at this time, given that there are a lot of moving parts, not only in relation to Jamaica and Venezuela, but, of course, the sanctions that remain. Payment will have to be a big part of that. In other words, how would you conduct business?” he said.

The proposed arrangement would bar Jamaica from having a bilateral agreement with Venezuela.

The US had previously sanctioned the Nicolás Maduro-led government during former US President Donald Trump's tumultuous tenure.

In 2019, backed by the United States and Western governments that claimed Maduro's re-election to be illegitimate, Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president and leader of a parallel government. He was recognised by more than 50 countries.

While Jamaica never formally endorsed Guaidó's “presidency”, its political support of the arrangement was clear.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com