Obama focuses on energy
President Barack Obama says the United States is committed to assisting its Caribbean neighbours in achieving energy security, which is critical to their economic growth.
Following talks with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew this morning, the US president noted that, “Often times people in the Caribbean, despite having less resources, are paying significantly more for energy”.
However, he pointed out that, “if we can lower those costs to the development of clean energy and increase energy efficiency, we could unleash, I think, a whole host of additional investment and growth”.
His comments come amid the signing today of an energy cooperation agreement between Jamaica and the United States Government.
The Statement of Intent was signed between the US Department of Energy and Jamaica’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining this morning.
Asked how the arrangement is likely to impact Jamaica’s relationship with Venezuela – the South American country which has shared its oil with Caribbean countries under a part-payment arrangement known as PetroCaribe – Paulwell said “we do intend to maintain our strong relationship with Venezuela as we build on this new area of relationship with the United States.”
Pressed further on whether the arrangement with the US could lead to a slackening of ties with Venezuela, Paulwell said, “I don’t see that as a possibility.”
Added Paulwell: “I believe we will be working closely with both countries.”
Speaking with The Gleaner after the signing, Paulwell also said the Government was optimistic particularly at the prospect of becoming a hub for distribution of LNG from the US to the rest of the region.
“Jamaica has attempted for many years to implement an LNG project, but we have been hindered because we just did not have access to liquefied natural gas. So, one of the achievements … is the American support for us accessing natural gas, and in fact we have gone a little further in trying to identify Jamaica as a possible hub for allowing natural gas to be delivered to the rest of the region,” said Paulwell.
The letter of intent also provides for technical assistance in energy conservation and fuel diversification.
The US Department of Energy was represented by Dr. Ernest Monitz, who is part of the US president’s visiting delegation.