Cops probe if seized fuel linked to Petrojam oil loss

Cops probe if seized fuel linked to Petrojam oil loss

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

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THE Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) yesterday said that, in a matter of weeks, the country will know if the nine 45-gallon drums of assorted fuel seized in Saturday’s raid of premises in Greenwich Town are linked to oil loss at the State-owned oil refinery, Petrojam.

“An investigation has been launched into the matter and within another two or three weeks we should be able to tell you if there is any link to Petrojam,” acting head of the Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch Superintendent Anthony McLaughlin said during a press conference at Petrojam’s headquarters in Kingston.

The police on Saturday charged a 76-year-old woman in connection with the find, which consisted of oil and two gas pumps.

The exercise was part of a joint police/military operation to clamp down on the illicit gas business that is known to thrive in the community.

The arrest of the senior citizen was a continuation of a series of raids during the day, in which a further 19 45-gallon drums were seized from other residences in Greenwich Town, the police told the Jamaica Observer.

Ten of the overall number of drums seized were said to be filled with petrol.

In the meantime, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams told journalists that the recent dive mission conducted by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard has identified no illegal attachments to Petrojam’s underwater petroleum pipelines.

Williams said Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered the JDF mission after he was approached by an elderly man at a function who begged him to commission an investigation into the activities at Petrojam.

“The Coast Guard of the JDF completed their mission and returned a report to the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology in a letter dated February 22, 2019, to indicate the days of their dive mission and the other technical aspects of the dive. The letter indicated that there were no illegal attachments identified on any of the 23 pipelines surveyed,” said Williams.

Last December, Prime Minister Holness said he would direct a forensic audit into the loss of 600,000 barrels of oil from the State-owned oil refinery since 2013.

Acting commanding officer of the JDF Coast Guard Lt Commander Aceion Prescott said that the extensive diving operation was conducted over a five-day period to assess the status of the pipelines.

“As the minister indicated, we conducted an extensive diving operation over a five-day period to assess the status of the pipelines. The operation was conducted with approximately 14 divers and it took place on a daily basis because the Kingston Harbour is not the simplest place to dive… All the pipelines were surveyed visually and by hand. Divers basically felt along the pipeline to detect any anomaly or any attachments that would have been there,” he noted.

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