(OilPrice.com, Haley Zaremba, 22.Aug.2017) – In the future, we may be hearing about the Caribbean a whole lot more when talking about oil and gas. Previously, the area was virtually off the map for the fossil fuels industry, despite its proximity to the vast oil reserves of Venezuela. Now, the Caribbean has suddenly become a point of interest since ExxonMobil discovered major reservoirs in nearby Guyana in 2015.
After their initial huge discovery of the Liza oil field 2 years ago, Exxonmobil also announced last month that they’ve discovered more oil in the Payara reservoir off the coast of Guyana, increasing the total discovery to approximately 500 million barrels. This is huge news for both Exxonmobil and for Guyana, which ranks among the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
ExxonMobil (partnered with Hess Corp. and Statoil) has also recently purchased a new deepwater block for exploration off the coast of neighboring Suriname, another potentially oil-filled nation. Some in the industry are already referring to the Guyana-Suriname Basin as the next big oil region.
Now, those good fortunes could be spreading to the Caribbean as well. Trinidad and Tobago has long been the Caribbean’s largest oil and gas producer. The nation has depended economically on their petroleum reserves since the 1990s, with the energy sector currently comprising 34.9 percent of the country’s GDP. However, more recently the small island-nation’s production has been in decline as production from mature fields has waned and exploration for new fields has been slow in starting. Now, Trinidad and Tobago is hoping that the discoveries in nearby Guyana will bring more interest and investment to the Caribbean.
It’s looking like Trinidad and Tobago will get their wish. Just this month BP Trinidad and Tobago announced two major discoveries totaling approximately two trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, which the company’s president called “the start of a rejuvenated exploration program on the Trinidad shelf”.
Similarly encouraged by the massive discoveries in Guyana over the last few years and the foreign interest it has garnered, several other Caribbean nations are beginning to assert themselves as potentially oil-rich countries and attempting to woo foreign companies to start investing in exploration around their islands. One of the biggest examples of this is Jamaica, who have recently caught the attention of UK-based Tullow Oil.
Last week Tullow announced plans to return to offshore locations off the southern coast of Jamaica to explore a field of “live oil” that was brought to their attention by local fisherman earlier this year. The firm will ramp up their 3D seismic surveys this year in hopes that the floating oil will lead them to vast oil fields the likes of their neighbors to the south and the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
The Bahamas has also recently publicized their plans to invite international companies to drill in deep waters off the coast, pointing not only to Guyana and the Gulf, but also to neighboring Cuba’s oil reserves as an indication of what treasures may be laying under the surface of the sparkling Caribbean Sea.
Exploration of oil reserves in the Caribbean may also soon be ramped up and revolutionized by major technological advancements from Ursa Space Systems. The high-tech company has announced a planned expansion to take a global oil inventory, with the Caribbean as one of its first major surveyed regions. Ursa will use satellite imagery to provide reliable and independent weekly inventories of oil stocks down to the tank level for easy calculations and better insight on oil supply and demand, especially in areas of the world where there has previously not been readily-available data.