PORT OF SPAIN, June 24 (Reuters) - Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Patrick Manning said Wednesday that sending liquefied natural gas to stimulate investments in Jamaica’s alumina sector was now a matter of national priority.
Trinidad and Tobago signed an agreement in 2004 to supply Jamaica with 1.1 million tonnes of LNG per year for 20 years, beginning in 2009, for use by the Jamalco refinery and the Jamaica Public Service Company’s electric power plants.
Trinidad later said it could not supply LNG to Jamaica because supplies were inadequate. But Manning told Parliament supplies had become available because the global supply and demand situation for gas has changed.
In the new environment, there is no longer the need for Jamaica to build regasification terminals, and floating terminals can be used, he said.
“In those circumstances, the government of Trinidad and Tobago now considers that a supply of LNG to Jamaica for the stimulation of investments in the alumina sector, to be a matter of national priority,” he told Parliament.
The Jamaican government owns 45 percent of Jamalco and Alcoa Inc (AA.N) owns the rest. The global financial crisis and sharp falls in metals prices have hurt Jamaica’s alumina sector, with some refineries cutting production.
The island’s largest bauxite and alumina producing company, Alumina Partners of Jamaica, suspended production in May for what was expected to be a year-long shutdown.
Manning said he hopes to enter into an arrangement for Jamaica to supply alumina for Trinidad and Tobago’s first aluminum smelter plant.
Trinidad and Tobago, through the Atlantic LNG plant, also exports LNG to the United States, Europe and the Dominican Republic. New technological developments in regasification have also allowed it to export gas to Brazil and Chile.
Atlantic’s four processing trains cool natural gas to convert it to liquid for transport, and have a total production capacity of 15 million metric tonnes a year. It is regasified at terminals for transport ashore through pipelines. (Reporting by Linda Hutchinson-Jafar; Editing by David Gregorio)