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Oil discovered in Orange Walk

Maranco Energy Belize Limited has struck oil at its South Canal Bank #1 exploration well in the Orange Walk District.

The company made the discovery  during routine exploratory drilling in their concession zone on Sunday, March 30.

A Ministry of Energy  press release describes the find as “encouraging”, but underscored the need for further testing to determine if the oil is in commercial quantities.

Chief Executive Officer of the ministry, Dr. Colin Young, explained that Geology and Petroleum Department personnel are on site and are closely monitoring the situation. Young added that there have been previous oil discoveries in the north, but the amounts were below commercial quantities. The Ministry is expected to give a public update on the testing in two weeks.

Maranco Energy Belize Limited is owned by Maranco LLC of Carlestown, Nevis, West Indies and has its headquarters at Iguana Creek in Spanish Lookout. It is an affiliate of PR Marriott Drilling Limited, a company established in 1947 by the Marriott family of the UK.

The company’s production sharing agreement (PSA) was opposed in 2006 by NGO’s such as the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, because a portion of its concession runs into the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area. The area is home to more than  100 species of orchids as well as various Belizean wild cats including jaguars and ocelots. They argued that any form of oil prospecting in the area would be detrimental to the surrounding wild life.

The Reporter spoke with Edilberto Romero of Program for Belize, the organization that co-manages the RBCMA. He emphasized that while Maranco  does not have clearance from the Department of the Environment to conduct any drilling in RBCMA, it does have clearance to conduct seismic surveys. Romero added that, to date, Maranco and Program for Belize have not come to any agreement on how that testing will be done.

Other companies that have conducted oil explorations in Orange Walk include Belize Natural Energy Limited, which has drilled for oil in the Yalbac area; and the Blue Creek Exploration and New World Oil and Gas which have drilled in the Blue Creek area.

A commercial find for Maranco would make them the second company to find  oil Belize, after Belize Energy Limited which struck oil in Spanish Lookout in 2005. BNE also struck oil in 2007 at its well  in Never Delay.

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