Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Wheatley warns against unrealistic oil expectations

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Danny Hurn (left), an observer on the Polarcus Adira vessel, explains to Dr Andrew Wheatley (centre) minister of science, energy and technology, the workings of the equipment that will be used in the seismic survey for oil. John McKenna of Tullow Oil looks on.

Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of science, energy and technology, has warned against any unrealistic expectations of a financial windfall in the short term from the three-dimensional (3-D) seismic survey for offshore oil and gas exploration now getting under way in Jamaican waters.

On Friday, Wheatley led a tour of the Polarcus Adira, the state-of-the-art 3-D seismic vessel docked at Berth 2, Kingston Wharves, which will undertake a detailed data-gathering survey covering a 2,250-square-kilometre section within the Walton Morant block south of Jamaica.

Wheatley told journalists afterwards that while there was reason to be optimistic, this should not be interpreted as a guarantee of success, and he appealed for help in enlisting divine intervention.

"I want us as a country to not get overly optimistic because it is a work in progress ... but what we want our people to do is to be very optimistic and to think of the possibilities and, of course, do a little praying as well," the energy minister said.

Meanwhile, John McKenna, country manager for Tullow Oil, the firm conducting the seismic survey, put into perspective the reason for the all-round optimism.

"This obviously is an exciting time for Tullow and for Jamaica. This is the first 3-D survey that is actually going to be undertaken offshore Jamaica, so we are very excited about it. We hope to get some good data and that the survey is completed safely and without any incidents and issues," he said during the on-board briefing.

McKenna, however, also spoke to the need for patience: "This programme will take 45-50 days," he explained. "Because it's such a large volume of data, it can take six to nine months to process. And then it could take another six months to nine months to actually be confident enough to identify and to mature prospects into drilling a location."

Speaking with The Gleaner afterwards, the Tullow executive said: "I don't think we'll know anything (definitive) before probably early next year as to whether or not it makes sense to drill, and then, of course, there may be more than one site that potentially could offer good results."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com