Oil search ends…for now

PCJ hopes 3-D seismic survey results will prompt move to next phase

BY DESMOND ALLEN
Executive editor - special assignment
allend@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 14, 2018

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The Polarcus Adira, the state-of-the-art vessel used by Tullow Oil to carry out Jamaica's first-ever oil and gas exploration 3D seismic survey, has now left Jamaican waters, carrying the hopes of a nation that, sometime soon, commercial quantities of the precious commodity will be found.

Conclusion of the survey marks another milestone in the decades-long but dogged search by the State-run Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) for oil and gas, which it found, it is widely believed would be a game-changer in Jamaica's economic fortunes.

The survey, part of a production sharing agreement (PSA) with the PCJ, was wrapped up on May 8 after covering a 2,250 square-kilometre section of the Walton Morant block off Jamaica's south coast. It took approximately 45 days and was completed within the projected time frame, PCJ bragged in a press statement yesterday.

“Analysis of the data gathered from the six-week survey could take between a year and 18 months. The findings will determine if Tullow will elect to drill an exploratory well in Jamaica's offshore in the future,” PCJ said.

Officials involved with the study have been at pains to urge caution, stressing that, while hopes were high, it was way too soon to conclude that oil and gas would be found in commercial quantities.

But in his most optimistic statement to date, PCJ Group General Manager Winston Watson, his facial expression giving nothing away, said: “There are no shortcuts in oil and gas exploration, and while the process can be painstaking, we still have to acknowledge significant milestones when we achieve them.

“Tullow's decision to do the 3-D 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,” he added.

The work was done by marine geophysical company Polarcus, whose principal seacraft, the Adira was supported throughout the operation by three vessels, one of which was Jamaican-owned. In addition, observers from several local organisations including the PCJ, the National Environment and Planning Agency, Fisheries Division, and Caribbean Maritime University were deployed on the Adira and her support vessels for the duration of the survey.

“The 3-D 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,” Watson said in the statement.

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