Oil companies show interest in Jamaica

May 29, 2005 02:00 AM

by Curtis Williams

At least six international oil companies have expressed interest in searching for oil in Jamaica according to the country’s Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology Phillip Paulwell.
Paulwell, whose portfolio includes energy, said the companies had already purchased data about the blocks which were put out for bids earlier this year, while several others have expressed a verbal interest in the venture.

The Jamaican government recently offered 22 blocks for bids as the country attempts to find both oil and gas so it can reduce its dependence on foreign energy and earn much needed foreign exchange. The blocks were offered at a ceremony in Houston and follows on a report which was commissioned by the P.J. Patterson administration which predicted that Jamaica had commercial deposits of oil and gas.
Paulwell said, “The response we have received has been just tremendous! We have had interest from both large and small companies and six of them have so far purchased data packages while other are waiting until the last minute to do the same. But interest is high and we believe that there will be several bids.”

Jamaica’s Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology said the many of the blocks were “particularly prospective for natural gas” although there were some blocks in which it is believed there are commercial deposits of crude.
Speaking during a recent trip to Washington, DC, Paulwell said the companies will be given until July 14 to enter bids after which the bids will be evaluated with a high emphasis being placed on the companies which make the best offer of production sharing and royalty payments. He explained that the high crude prices and Jamaica’s traditional trading links were two factors driving the key interest in the blocks.

Paulwell said, “It is clear that high crude prices allow oil companies to have greater flexibility in their exploration budgets and this certainly helps in terms of their interest but I feel that our traditional trading linksvisa vie the United States market, coupled with the concerns of Middle Eastern oil has had an effect on the level of interest.”
He also revealed that as part of their bids the companies will be expected to commit to a programme of 3D seismic work. They expect that work to begin next year.

Source: The Trinidad Guardian
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