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Lawmaker calls for emergency meeting to address natural gas supply concerns


Rep. José Enrique Meléndez Ortiz

By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


In order to end the problem of supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate electricity in Puerto Rico, at-large Rep. José Enrique “Quiquito” Meléndez Ortiz said he will be organizing an emergency meeting of the island Ports Authority, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, among others, to outline an action plan to prevent a lack of LNG fuel.


The lawmaker did not rule out new legislation to address the issue.


“Puerto Rico cannot be at the mercy of a waiver of cabotage laws to meet its natural gas needs for electric power generation,” Meléndez said. “We recognize the difficulties that occurred due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona on September 18, but we have to learn from that and we will be convening all sectors involved with natural gas in order to draw up an immediate action plan to avoid a possible crisis,” Meléndez Ortiz said.


“Winter is approaching in our nation, the United States, as well as in Europe, which has stopped using natural gas from the Russian Federation in the face of its attack, without any justification, on Ukraine,” the New Progressive Party legislator added. “This factor will have the effect of not only increasing the price of natural gas, but also making its transportation more sporadic and that could have an effect on the island. What we seek is to minimize it.”


Two days ago, the administration of President Joseph Biden authorized a waiver of the Jones-Shafroth Act, which covers matters related to cabotage, to allow a vessel with the flag of the Marshall Islands to discharge natural gas at the Eco Eléctrica terminal in Peñuelas, a private power generation plant that supplies PREPA.


“We cannot and will not go along with this situation; we have to look for a real alternative that we can implement as soon as possible,” Meléndez Ortiz said. “The forum will be an open one, where we will encourage the free exchange of ideas, such as the creation of a state reserve of natural gas, among other things.”


The lawmaker added that in the coming days he will announce details of the meeting, including the day and time as well as other possible participants.

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