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The concept of a State Energy Corporation in Jamaica was first promoted in 1975 as a delayed response to the 1973 oil crisis. By June of 1979, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) was created by the Government of Jamaica. The enabling legislation, the Petroleum Act of 1979, established the PCJ as a Statutory Corporation, under the Ministry of Energy and Mining with the exclusive right to explore for oil, to develop Jamaica's petroleum resources and to enter all stages of the petroleum industry.
This included the right to negotiate import contracts (e.g. The PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, which replaces, with Venezuela, the San Jose Accord and the Caracas Agreement), operation of the refinery, transportation and sale of petroleum and petroleum products and the acceleration of the renewable energy agenda. The PCJ Group includes subsidiaries Petrojam Limited, which operates the oil refinery, Petrojam Ethanol Limited, Petcom Limited, the marketing and retailing company, Jamaica Aircraft Refuelling Services, and Wigton Windfarm Limited.
In 1995, the Corporation was mandated to develop indigenous renewable energy resources, to prevent adverse effects on the environment and to assist the government in realizing the goals of the Jamaica Energy Sector Policy.
The PCJ is committed to the reduction of the nation's heavy dependence on imported petroleum to meet its energy requirements. In seeking to diversify Jamaica's energy sources, the Corporation, has over the years, undertaken initiatives in:-
- Oil and gas exploration
- Extensive studies on the economic viability of peat for fuel
- The construction of hydropower plants
- Solar energy
- Wind energy
- The potential for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
- Biofuels research and development (2008 – )
- Ensuring the highest standards of environmental standards in it operations
The Corporation, in 1987 constructed an energy efficient office complex, the PCJ Resource Centre, at Trafalgar Road. The PCJ Resource Centre serves as a model in the national effort to reduce energy costs in buildings.
The Corporation owns and manages a 1054.5 hectare property at Fonthill in St. Elizabeth. In March 2008, the PCJ commenced a biodiesel experiment at its Fonthill Farm, cultivating a 0.7 acre plot with castor beans obtained from the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. The reaped seeds are currently being used to plant additional acreages. The Corporation is in the process of sourcing additional feedstock and procuring biodiesel production equipment.
The PCJ has achieved its objectives without subvention from the Government and without imposition of taxes. The Corporation has succeeded in being profitable while contributing to government through taxes and grants made to related organizations as well as private institutions.