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Jamaica government encouraged by latest offshore oil, gas surveys

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Jamaica’s government Friday said there were encouraging signs from recent three-dimension offshore surveys aimed at finding commercial quantities of oil and gas as the race to switch the country from an importer to a net producer heats up.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) said the 3D program run by Tullow Oil of the United Kingdom marked the first time that such high tech surveys were done anywhere in island waters and the signs are good for further investment.

“Tullow’s decision to do the 3D Seismic Survey shows that the data indicators are pointing in the right direction, and we hope that the results of the post-survey data analysis will prompt them to move forward to the next phase,” said Winston Watson, group general manager of the PCJ said.

Encouraged by consistent seepages of live oil both on and offshore in Jamaica in recent months, Tullow and the PCJ decided to step up exploration and survey works, convinced that commercial quantities of both oil and gas lie below the seabed and on land in Jamaica.

Late last year, local fishermen pointed authorities to live oil on top of the water off Jamaica’s south coast. Initially, the seepage was dismissed as waste oil either from cruise or other commercial ships operating in or passing through Jamaica.

But once the fishermen persisted that the oil was new, fresh and recurring, authorities decided to take a second look and Tullow unpacked its equipment and started work anew.

Weeks after inland in northern Jamaica, locals also pointed officials to seepages. Experts investigating the seeps, discovered that the two were a mere 47 miles apart. This suggests that there might be an active system underground.

The PCJ’s Watson said that “the 3D Seismic Survey, Jamaica’s first, is the most advanced oil-and-gas exploration study ever carried out in Jamaica, and its completion marks the steady progress of the exploration PSA the PCJ signed with Tullow in 2014.”

The study area, the Gleaner Newspaper reported, covers 2,250 square kilometers, and took for 45 days to be completed.

Jamaica’s efforts to determine whether it has commercial quantities of oil and gas come amid a mad rush by Caribbean Community nations such as Guyana, Grenada, the Bahamas, Barbados and Suriname to become oil producers.

U.S. giant ExxonMobil is preparing for a late 2019 or early 2020 production start up in Guyana. Grenada’s government in March said that recent surveys prove the island, close to oil and gas-rich Trinidad, has commercial quantities that will be developed in the coming years.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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