Jamaica is rapidly converting to natural gas as the main fuel for power generation but, alas, none of it will be coming from Trinidad and Tobago. 

The furthest gas from this country will get up the Caribbean archipelago is when businessmen Roland Fisher of Gas Fin Development and George Naime of BEN LNG begin selling to customers in the Eastern Caribbean, if that does take place. 

It is US suppliers that are cornering the Jamaican market, led, in the first instance, by New Fortress Energy, which delivered its first LNG cargo to the Jamaica Public Service Co’s (JPSCo) generation plant at Old Harbour on the south coast aboard the Golar Arctic vessel. 

“JPSCo is proud to be partnering with New Fortress Energy to lead the introduction of natural gas into Jamaica,” says JPSCo’s president and chief executive officer, Kelly Tomblin. 

She pointed out: “The country has been trying to achieve fuel diversity for a long time and 2016 represents the year that it has really happened.” 

The next generating plant to be converted to natural gas (from automotive diesel oil, in this case) will be the 120MW Bogue, at Montego Bay, on the north coast. 

New Fortress is in the process of finalising the construction of a terminal at Montego Bay, which was on track for mechanical completion in late August. 

A new 190MW power plant at Old Harbour Bay at St. Catherine will also be run on natural gas. The necessary infrastructure is now being established. 

New Fortress Energy’s founder and cochairman, Wes Edens, notes that “the arrival of natural gas is a historic development for energy diversity and stability in Jamaica. Thanks to the visionary leadership of the Jamaica government and JPSCo, this expansion of the energy sector will allow for more reliable and affordable natural gas to support sustainable economic growth and environmental stewardship. We are proud to invest in this goal and excited to help Jamaica get one step closer to becoming a clean energy hub for the Caribbean and Latin America.” 

The word “hub” should ring alarm bells in Trinidad and Tobago since it was this country, after all, that was slated to be the “energy hub” of the Eastern Caribbean. 

Trinidad and Tobago is already a longstanding LNG exporter, including modest amounts to two Caribbean states, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. 

Roland Fisher and George Naime, are both preparing to ship LNG to the region. 

Fortunately for us, we do have an advantage in that we produce natural gas. Jamaica does not. 

This suggests that Trinidad and Tobago should always have a price edge which it would do well to start making the most of before it really does lose any chance of claiming the “hub” title.