Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Tullow finds ‘live’ oil offshore Jamaica

Published:Friday | February 10, 2017 | 2:00 AMSteven Jackson
In this November 11, 2014 file photo, then energy minister Phillip Paulwell signs the journey board, while Tullow oil executive John McKenna looks on, at the announcement of the oil and gas exploration licence for Tollow.

Oil and gas company Tullow Oil disclosed this week that it found 'live oil' off the coast of Jamaica in its latest search.

The company has since extending its 2D seismic mapping by hundreds of kilometres to determine the full scope of the find.

"In Jamaica, following the completion of a drop core and seep study in the Walton Morant blocks that identified a live oil seep, Tullow will acquire a further 680 kilometres of 2D seismic data before considering the acquisition of a 3D seismic," said Tullow in its annual report released on Wednesday.

A Jamaican engineer who worked on oil rigs off the coast of Gabon told the Financial Gleaner that live oil seeps are evidence of oil flowing to the surface, which provide the first indication of petroleum systems in the basins surveyed. Requests for comment from Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and Tullow Oil were unanswered up to press time.

Tullow, which is based in the United Kingdom, posted a US$600 million net loss on US$1.3 billion in revenue for its December 2016 year end, due to write-offs and impairments. The company, which operates in 18 countries, holds net debt of US$4.8 billion and free cash flow of $1 billion.

In November 2014, the PCJ signed a production-sharing agreement with Tullow for oil and gas exploration in Jamaica's offshore areas. It includes 10 full blocks and one part block in shallow water to the south of the island.

Last year, Tullow completed a bathymetry survey over the 32,056 square km Walton Morant Blocks. Also, it completed a 2D seismic survey in the first quarter of 2016 to delineate potential plays in shallow water.

Tullow previously reported that there have been oil or gas shows in 10 of the 11 onshore and offshore wells drilled in Jamaica.

The offshore area to the south of the island has been identified as having good frontier exploration potential, encompassing three geological provinces: the Pedro Bank carbonate platform and the Walton and 'Southern' sub-basins, which offer tertiary-aged clastic and carbonate reservoir targets in both structural and stratigraphic settings. Multiple leads have been identified on existing seismic data which lie in 25m to 2,000m depths.

Canadian company Sagres Energy, which previously held the rights in 2010, exited Jamaica in 2012 as it was unable to find a drilling partner. Sagres, instead, chose to focus on opportunities in Colombia.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com