Tue | Nov 21, 2017

Gov't considers purchasing Venezuela’s stake in Petrojam

Published:Tuesday | November 14, 2017 | 5:02 PM

The Government of Jamaica is considering repurchasing the Venezuelan government’s stake in Petrojam after an executive order by US president Donald Trump put the state entity in a precarious position.

In August, Trump issued additional sanctions on Venezuela amid the ongoing economic and political turmoil in that country.

The Order essentially prevents US entities from engaging in transactions involving the Venezuelan government and companies owned by the state.

This afternoon, energy minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, told the House of Representatives that the order has affected Petrojam, in which a state-owned Venezuelan company has a 49 per cent stake.

Wheatly said within two weeks of the order being issued, Petrojam started to receive questions regarding its relationship with the Venezuelans.

He said the increasing scrutiny has delayed transactions and resulted in some payments to Petrojam being withheld by the US Federal Reserve and other banks.

He says the Jamaican Government has made the argument that the agreements with Venezuela existed before the president’s executive order and Petrojam is not controlled by the Venezuelan government.

However, he says this has been unsuccessful so far.

 

Wheatley says among the solutions being looked at is the buy-back of the Venezuelan shares in Petrojam.

He also pointed out that an agreement with the Venezuelans to execute the Petrojam Refinery Expansion Project has also been stalled.

 

However, opposition spokesman Member of Parliament Julian Robinson questioned whether the government could afford this.

Wheatley said no decision has been made yet.

 

Energy minister, Dr. Andrew Wheatley.