SOLELY JAMAICA

Jamaica 2018 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Robert Jackson, General Manager of Sol Petroleum, on Sol's history in Jamaica and the region, new technologies and products, and growth opportunities.

 Robert Jackson
BIOGRAPHY
Robert Jackson has been the General Manager of Sol Petroleum Jamaica Limited since June 2013. He holds a degree in management studies from the University of the West Indies and a master’s in business administration from the Nova Southeastern University. He has worked in the areas of accounting, finance, operations, and marketing. He has spent 13 years with Texaco Caribbean Inc. and has worked internationally with Texaco in Nigeria, Haiti, and Grand Cayman. He has developed and implemented retail network marketing plans and managed the entire retail network of Texaco Jamaica with responsibility for revenue growth, profitability, facility appearance, and dealer relations. He also spent eight years at the Norman Manley International Airport and was responsible for revenue generation.

What have been the highlights of Sol Petroleum since starting operations in Jamaica?

Sol is our parent company and was founded a decade ago by Caribbean entrepreneur Sir Kyffin Simpson. The company started operations in 2005 when it purchased the Caribbean assets of Shell, a multinational oil and gas company. Following Sol's initial purchase of Shell's assets in the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Suriname, and Belize, Sol expanded to 23 Caribbean territories. This expansion included the conversion of some of Shell's service stations to Sol service stations, as well as the purchase of the Caribbean operations of ESSO in 2014. As a result, Sol operates three separate retail brands (Sol, Shell, and ESSO) across the region. Sol, the largest independent petroleum marketing company in the Caribbean Basin, is one of the region's best business success stories. While Sol and its iconic blue and orange logo may be considered new to Jamaica, its role in the Jamaica energy landscape is significant. Sol solidified its footprint here in Jamaica in June 2013, when the company became the macro distributor for Shell lubricants. Subsequently, Sol partnered with Petrotec to provide bunkering services in the Kingston harbor. We are still quite excited about the introduction of Shell's cutting-edge full synthetic products: Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus™ Technology, which has been available on the market since April 2015. Shell PurePlus™ Technology is a revolutionary gas-to-liquid process that converts natural gas into a crystal-clear base oil with virtually none of the impurities found in crude oil. The unique combination of Shell PurePlus technology with active cleansing technology enables Shell Helix Ultra to deliver even higher levels of cleansing and protection for today's engines, making it Shell's most advanced fully synthetic motor oil ever.

How does being part of the wider Sol Petroleum Group help your operations in Jamaica?

We are in fact the largest petroleum company in the region; we are in 23 locations and employ over 900 talented team members that share best practices. There are many competent professionals in the organization, and we lean on those resources in terms of expertise, advice, and guidance. The company is well known, which speaks volumes for us and makes it easier for us to broker deals.

What do you see as other opportunities in the market?

We are always exploring various opportunities for growth and are now looking into opportunities such as LPG, aviation, retail, and the commercial fuel business. We are also looking at power generation. We know there is a move now by these companies toward gas and are exploring available opportunities to see how we can add value. As the Panama Canal expands, Jamaica is looking into the new logistics hub, which opens up more opportunities. As a group, we supply our territories through our chartered vessels, and we see Jamaica as a strategic location to service the whole region. The sky is the limit for us here at Sol Petroleum Jamaica.

What is your outlook for the transport sector in Jamaica?

Jamaica is poised for growth. We are in a great position in the Caribbean and Latin America; therefore, we can only go up from here. There will always be trade, and we are in a position to facilitate a great deal of trade as the port handles a significant amount of transit. Kingston is the seventh-largest natural harbor, and we ought to capture the opportunity to make use of it. Education and skills training will be critical in the future, especially in maritime. The road network is also improving, which means movement of goods by road to port and airport will also be easier.