The Caribbean is poised to be­come the next ma­jor oil re­gion

Weekend Mirror - - CHILDREN’S CORNER - By Ha­ley Zaremba

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 a nd 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 Su- ri­name, 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% 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 ( t cf) 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- t ech 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.

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