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Ministers want CARICOM oil and gas commission

The Noble Bob Douglas drill ship is working on the Sorubim well off the coast of Guyana.
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United States oil giant ExxonMobil has positioned a second and much larger drilling rig off the Guyana coast as it ramps up drilling of wells and preparations for the start of oil production in late 2019, or by the first quarter of 2020 at the latest officials said this week.

The rig was moved into position in recent weeks and has already started work drilling the Sorubim Well in phase one of what is expected to be a long and extended stay for Exxon and its partners given the large amount of oil and gas the consortium has found so far offshore Guyana.

This is even as Caribbean Community governments are beginning to show increasing levels of attention to the oil and gas sector with Jamaica, Grenada, The Bahamas and Suriname among others have either handed out offshore concession to oil majors or are preparing to do so.

Grenada’s government in March said a consortium which had been exploring offshore had found indications of commercial deposits of both oil and gas, a move that came as a surprise to no one in the industry or to anyone in Grenada as the country is just 50 miles north of Trinidad and Tobago. T&T is the largest oil and gas production in the bloc of 15 nations and has been in the sector for more than 100 years.

In the north Caribbean, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (Petrojam) said it and Tullow Oil of the UK were excited about live oil seepages both onshore and off the south coast of the island. Tullow is preparing to roll out 3D seismic surveys in the coming weeks to determine what exactly lies below the seabed.

Exxon said the Noble Bob Douglas drill ship is working on the Sorubim well and an announcement as to whether commercial quantities of oil and gas are found would be made in early May.

The ship joins the Stenna Carron whose crew first blew the lid on Guyana as a fledgling oil producer back in 2015. The Stenna is working on the Liza 5 well. In all 17 wells will be drilled in this phase with eight identified as production bearers and the others, a mixture of pressure and gas wells.

Meanwhile, regional energy ministers say that the time has come for an umbrella body to oversee oil and gas in the region with all the activity in the sector in recent years.

Darcy Boyce, the Barbadian senator and state minister who chaired a recent meeting at CARICOM headquarters in Guyana, said that some regional mechanism has to be found to deal with oil and gas.

“While we are all determined to make sure that we benefit as best as we can from renewable energy and energy efficiency, we all also have to bear in mind that if we are the owners of resources, we ought not to let those resources stand there idly, but we should use them for the benefit of our countries and for the region. So I am very glad that we are not shying away from the matter of oil and gas,” Boyce stated.

The very massive Exxon find has led to a mad rush of oil majors to Guyana with the likes of Total of France, Chevron of the US, Petrobrasil, Tullow of the UK, Repsol of Spain and a host of others either preparing to begin exploratory drilling or are vying for offshore blocks in the area near Exxon.

Officials said only four smaller blocks are left for the take and one is likely to go to Petrobras, given Brazil’s importance on the continent and its ability to keep Venezuela at bay with its claim to both offshore sea space and land in Guyana.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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