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Tullow Oil commences drop core survey off coast of Jamaica

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMCamilo Thame
File In this November 2014 Gleaner photo Tullow Oil executive John McKenna (left) greets Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell (right) at the announcement of the licence for the company to explore for oil and gas in Jamaica. PCJ chairman Chris Cargill is at centre.

United Kingdom-based Tullow Oil has completed a bathymetry or underwater survey of the 32,000 square kilometre area south of Jamaica that it is licensed to prospect.

The study of underwater depths of the Walton and Morant basins "provided indications of possible seeps on which to position drop cores", according to a trading update issued to the London Stock Exchange.

"This operation (drop core survey) has commenced," said the filing.

That's not to say that the company will be sinking an oil well anytime soon.

Having signed the prospecting contract with the government last November it is still three years off from having to decide on acquiring new 2D and 3D seismic studies of the area. The company just committed to carrying out low-cost studies and reprocessing work, and the contract gives it the option to elect to proceed with further exploration by mid-2018.

And, Tullow has said it is undertaking a work programme "that does not require a well commitment", according to the company's website.

The drop core survey will take sea bed samples to identify where hydrocarbons are located.

Last November, the government announced that it resumed the search for oil and gas in Jamaica with the issuing of the licence to Tullow, which reportedly committed US$60 million (J$6.7 billion) to undertake exploration of the island's south coast.

The exercise, which com-menced on November 1, is being facilitated under a production sharing agreement (PSA) signed by the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), and Tullow Jamaica Limited.

Under the PSA, the Govern-ment will secure between 45 and 48 per cent of production above 50,000 barrels, should the more-than-30-year search for oil finally results in commercial production of hydrocarbons.

The PCJ will oversee the arrangement on behalf of the Government to ensure that the provisions are fulfilled.