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Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has asked the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), to assist in attracting one of the giant drilling companies from the United States (US), to explore for offshore oil, given the country’s crude oil potential.

The Minister said there are “great prospects for striking commercially viable oil offshore Jamaica (which now) appears more certain, based on the data collected to date, indicating that there could be as much as 10 billion barrels of reserves in the Walton Basin."

Addressing AMCHAM’s ‘Private Sector Forum on Energy’ in Kingston, recently,  Mr. Paulwell said that despite the cynicism that Jamaica’s oil exploration project has faced, “industry experts are actually very optimistic about our prospects and Rainville has advised that they have some big players looking at our waters with significant interest."

The Minister argued that interest from one of the major operators will give a positive fillip to “our oil and gas exploration project that unfortunately stalled over the past four years.”

He noted that Rainville Energy, a subsidiary of Sagres Energy of Canada, which holds  licences to explore and develop Blocks 9, 13, and 14, has been granted an extension of the first phase by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ). “This will allow potential joint venture partners seeking to farm-in with Rainville/Sagres, the time to evaluate the blocks and make arrangements for drilling,” he added.

Sagres Energy has been allowed a four-month extension from the PCJ to seek a drilling partner in its quest for oil off the shores of Jamaica.This represents the first major extension offered to the Canadian company, which specialises in oil exploration, but wants to venture into oil drilling, the costlier side of the business.

The PCJ has granted Rainville an extension to April 30, on the first phase of its programme, to allow potential joint venture partners sufficient time to do their evaluation of the blocks.

Last week, Sagres in a statement welcoming the extension, disclosed that the company was “in discussions with several parties with regard to a potential farm-in on these properties."

According to President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sagres, Gary Wine, the company had hoped to start drilling by the end of 2011, in order to meet its original deadline set by the Government.

He expressed confidence that despite the delays, the oil drilling outfit continues to be “excited by the potential of the La Concepcion prospect, a prospect straddling

Blocks 9 and 13, with an independent evaluation establishing a gross mean prospective resource estimate of 3.0 billion barrels."

Mr. Wine pointed out that the company is now actively seeking joint venture partners, and "we look forward to advancing this project to the drilling stage and we are holding discussions with potential partners."

Last year, Rainville mapped an offshore oil site in the vicinity of Pedro Banks off Jamaica’s South Coast, and is optimistic that its three blocks might hold some three billion barrels of reserves.

 

By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter