Jamaica energy minister warns against unrealistic oil expectations

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The Polarcus Adira seismic vessel will explore the waters offshore Jamaica

Jamaica’s Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. Andrew Wheatley 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 the island’s waters.

According to a report in the Gleaner, Wheatley led a tour of the Polarcus Adira on Friday, 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, the Gleaner reported.

The Polarcus Adira will explore the waters offshore Jamaica under an agreement the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) had entered into with Tullow Oil, about four years ago. The vessel will comb the waters for a 60-day period. Tullow Oil previously conducted two-dimensional explorations in 2016 and 2017.