Editorial

Falklands: a problem we would dearly love to have

Thursday, October 04, 2012    

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THE Government of the Falklands Islands is very fretful that the imminent production of oil will upset the natural order of things among its population of 3,000 people.

Jamaica Observer senior reporter Alicia Dunkley-Willis informs us in today's edition that the Government of that South Atlantic nation is already taking steps to deal with the anticipated changes that will come with the planned 2017 production of oil from the Sea Lion field north of the Falklands Islands.

If anyone wondered why Britain and Argentina went to war over the Falklands in 1982, and why despite losing that 74-day war, Argentina still claims that territory, then wonder no more. The magic word is oil.

Falklands energy minister, Dr Barry Elsby said his government was well aware of both the dangers and the advantages which come with the discovery of oil.

"...It carries downsides — mass immigration, huge amounts of money suddenly hitting a small community — so we are very much aware of that," he said. "One of the big things we are looking at is the socio-economic effects of this oil find and how we are going to handle it, how we are going to maintain what is the good of the Falklands," Dr Elsby told Caribbean journalists on a media tour of the islands.

We can't help the thought that this is a problem Jamaica could well do with.

Only last week, the state-run Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) informed the country that it had been forced to revoke the oil exploration licence granted to Canadian firm, Rainville Energy Corp, a subsidiary of Sagres Energy in 2006.

PCJ alleged that Rainville had failed to meet its financial obligations under the current agreement, by not securing the necessary funding for the second phase of the programme involving the drilling of an exploratory well by November 2013. This is after it had been granted previous extensions.

The company held out hope that the search for oil will continue, saying that it will keep markting its open blocks and actively pursue investment for exploration and drilling in Jamaica's onshore and offshore areas.

"We are actively seeking to engage partners and we are targeting a number of exploration and production players, including majors and supermajors, with a view to securing an agreement for major investment in the future," PCJ head, Dr Mario Anderson assured.

Dr Anderson will not be surprised if Jamaicans are getting weary of this on-again off-again exploration for oil, which has been going on since 1955.

By its own admission, PCJ says that between 1955 and 1973, seven exploratory wells were drilled, one offshore and six onshore. Following the establishment of PCJ in 1979, the momentum of activity increased with the drilling of three wells onshore and one offshore during the period 1980-1981.

Current geological data from the Jamaican territory have suggested the potential for commercial quantities of oil and gas to be found in the Walton, an area of relatively deep water located between Jamaica and the Pedro Bank. The Pedro Bank is also prospective as is the blocks surrounding the coast of Jamaica. It is thought that onshore finds of oil or gas may also be commercially significant.

With advancements in the geological and geophysical sciences over the past two decades, Jamaica started a new exploration phase that seems to have ended with Rainville.

Oh for a little of Falklands' luck.

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