Wed | Sep 18, 2019

PCJ confirms discovery of third live oil seep onshore Ja

Published:Tuesday | September 3, 2019 | 2:18 PM
Contributed photo.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) is reporting that a test carried out by two separate independent laboratories have confirmed that an oil seep identified in 2018 by the agency is the island’s third such onshore discovery.

An oil seep is a natural leak of crude oil and gas that migrates up through the seafloor.

Crude oil and natural gas naturally enter the ocean at areas known as "seeps."

These hydrocarbons leak out of the ground through fractures and sediments, in the same way freshwater springs bring water to the surface.

The PCJ explains that while the seep offers no commercial prospects, “the discovery strengthens the emerging data which shows that Jamaica has a working petroleum system which is generating and expelling hydrocarbons to the surface.”

“Preliminary geochemical analyses undertaken by the PCJ confirmed that the newest seep apparently originates from a source rock from the Jurassic geological period, which was approximately 160 million years ago, making it older than any rocks found on or offshore Jamaica to date,” a PCJ spokesperson said in a statement today. 

“This new oil seep is one of the oldest located within Jamaica in terms of oil family age. It further suggests that these source rocks and older oils identified in Jamaica have similarities to similar aged-oils from Belize,” the spokesperson added.

The PCJ contends that the affirmation of this new oil seep challenges the previous geological evolution of Jamaica and has identified a new oil family for exploration activity.

“The PCJ intends to continue its quest for new oil seeps in order to refine and update the evolution of its geological origins, the potential geological impact of the deposition of older sediments reworked into rock strata and the subsequent timing of petroleum generated from such rocks.” said PCJ’s Oil and Gas Manager, Brian Richardson. 

“We will continue to expand our search for tell-tale signs of Jamaican hydrocarbons seeps in both the on and offshore with our partners and encourage the public to call us should they identify any substances they consider to be ‘oil-like’ so that we can investigate,” he added.

The agency notes that this new discovery has moved the number of confirmed hydrocarbon seeps from one gas seep to a total of five oil and gas seeps both on and offshore in 2019.    

The PCJ points out that Jamaica’s most well-known gas seep, the Windsor Gas seep, has been gently bubbling since the 1900s.

However, the PCJ in partnership with CGG GeoConsulting found two live oil seeps onshore in 2016. 

The agency explains that following this, the first offshore live oil seep was discovered by Tullow Oil in February 2017 and then recently, the PCJ identified an additional live oil seep onshore with the assistance of a citizen who contacted the corporation to investigate an “oily substance” found on her farm.

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