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Oil drilling to begin in St Bess

Published:Friday | June 1, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer


SAGRES ENERGY, the Canadian oil-exploration company, which has been licensed to explore for oil in Jamaica's waters, is set to start drilling in Walton Basin, off the coast of south St Elizabeth in 2013.

"There is the prospective for large quantities of oil and gas off the coast of south St Elizabeth in an area called the Walton Basin," Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell told The Gleaner on Wednesday. "One of conditions under which Sagres Energy got the licence was commitment that drilling will commence in 2013."

"This will, however, be depen-dent on the company securing the relevant environmental permits for the expedition," added Paulwell.

Sagres owns 100 per cent of blocks nine, 13 and 14 located in the Pedro Banks and, according to previous reports, the company believes these might hold some three billion barrels of reserves, or enough to satisfy Jamaica's needs for 90 years.

Significant exporter

Jamaica consumes energy equivalent to 25-30 million barrels of oil annually, according to government data.

Should the oil exploration meet projection, it would also make Jamaica a significant exporter with reserves at one-third of OPEC-member Ecuador's reserves, based on that oil-grouping statistics.

However, for the drilling to commence, Sagres would require a multi-million-dollar investment. As a consequence, the company is now on the hunt for a joint-venture partner, even as it is fine-tuning data from its research.

"Jamaica is ready to commercialise its resource potential with refining capacity of 45,000 barrels of oil per day; electricity gene-rators that accept gas, oil, or bio-diesel fuels," Dr David Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Sagres Energy Inc, stated on the company's website.

Dr Johnson said the company was also ready to establish a bauxite, shipping and cement industries, and a geographic position central to major global marine trade routes.