News

Wheatley cautious on outcome of oil/gas find

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 23, 2018

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Dr Andrew Wheatley yesterday cautiously welcomed a report that Jamaica could have found inland oil or gas reserves in the parish of Trelawny.

Speaking at a function on the premises of the country's sole oil refinery, Petrojam, on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, Dr Wheatley, the minister of science, energy and technology, said the find could increase economic activity and help to solve Jamaica's growth problems.

However, he told the Jamaica Observer that he would not say much more as he felt the need to be cautious in his interpretation of the development.

“I think I will have to wait for further information before speaking on the outcome of the find,” he said after the function held to rename the Petrojam building in honour of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who was instrumental in the Government's purchase of the Petrojam refinery from Esso in 1982.

News of the development was first reported globally on the website of CGG GeoConsulting, the international firm collaborating with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) in the exploration for inshore and offshore gas and oil.

The minister had told guests at the function that the fact was that the consultants, may have struck inland oil or gas seeps from different parts of the island.

Wheatley confirmed that the seeps were found in the rural parts of Trelawny, but said the fact that they were found on the north coast of Jamaica would not raise any threats to the tourism product, as they were both inland seeps.

“We will approach it with caution, because if we should actually find that gold — black gold — you will see quite a bit of economic activity… and it could become the catalyst for growth,” he told guests.

A report of the finding was included in a joint statement issued late Tuesday by CGG Geoscience and the PCJ, and was carried worldwide Wednesday by United Press International. The report said that “oil was found flowing naturally onshore in Jamaica at two locations that could be a door-opener in the Caribbean”.

It noted that CGG Geoscience, a leader in cutting-edge geoscience with technology designed to produce “extremely precise data and images of the Earth's subsurface”, and the PCJ, which handles the exploration for oil and gas in Jamaica as well as the development of indigenous renewable energy resources, had collaborated in the search for oil and gas.

In their joint statement, CGG and PCJ said the oil seeps were found during field work for a recently completed multi-client study of the petroleum potential onshore and off-shore Jamaica.

It added that subsequent detailed geochemical analyses confirmed the oil seeps originate from two separate cretaceous source rocks.

“Oil or gas shows have been seen in 10 or the 11 exploration wells drilled to date. The discovery of these seeps indicates the presence of working petroleum systems on the island that are generating and expelling liquid hydrocarbons to the surface,” added the statement, which was also tacked to CGG's website.

Sophie Zurquiyah, vice-president of geology, geo-physics and reservoir at CGG, was quoted as stating that the “exciting discovery of live oil onshore Jamaica”, built a strong case for the island as an attractive region for future oil exploration within the Caribbean.

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