US Round of Licences for Oil and Gas Exploration Opens Today


Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell is in Houston today, where he will formally open the United States round of licences for oil and gas exploration off Jamaica’s shores.
The launch is scheduled to take place at the Houston Intercontinental Hotel in Texas. Minister Paulwell is being accompanied by Dr. Raymond Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and Ambassador to the United States, Professor Gordon Shirley.
Mr. Paulwell described today’s launch as “important,” given the fact that “a major new investigative report of the geology of Jamaica has discovered what seems to be a previously unknown active petroleum system.”
The report, which was undertaken by a team of British geologists led by energy expert Chris Matchette-Downes, provides a much deeper and more positive understanding of earlier finds and involves three oil families in the large untested Walton Basin, located to the south of Jamaica. It also details a gas seep, which has been burning for 100 years on the north coast of the island, and has been of interest to geologists.
One of the project geologists, Nick Cameron, noted a striking geological similarity between Jamaica’s Walton Basin and the active Malampaya gas field in the Philippines and the tertiary petroleum systems of southeast Sumatra and northeast Java.
To date, 53 structures have been identified offshore in modest water depths. Of the eleven exploration wells drilled so far (2 onshore, 9 offshore) ten revealed oil and/or gas shows.
The Houston initiative follows on a successful launch in London on November 22.
In addition to a wide range of British firms, which were represented, oil exploration entities from Malaysia, Canada and across Europe were also in attendance. Jamaica also erected a promotional booth at Earl’s Court and British Minister of Energy, Mike O’Brian view of the display, also served to stimulate interest.
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) meeting in Cancun, Mexico in October also resulted in renewed attention regarding possible exploration in Jamaican waters.
With the price of oil at an all-time high, and with the island currently importing 90 per cent of its energy needs, Minister Paulwell has observed that Jamaica intended to offer exceptionally good terms to companies to ensure that this resource was developed as speedily as possible.
The bidding process will open on January 1, 2005 and the government is expected to offer a total of 22 offshore blocks and 4 onshore blocks of licenses to oil and gas interests. The bidding is expected to close on July 15.

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