General / Weekend News

Belize looks to Trinidad for technical advice with oil find

The Government of Belize has issued a formal request to the Trinidadian prime minister for assistance in extracting the hard-to-reach oil discovered a month ago in northern Belize, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said Friday.

Barrow told reporters that he has reached out to prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to ask her to authorize a team from Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Petrotrin), the 21-year-old state-owned oil company that operates that country’s single petroleum refinery, to travel to Belize and advise Maranco Limited of the optimal extraction methods to employ.

“I thought that perhaps their experts would be able to advise us; give us a better handle on what exactly it would take to get at the oil….[that is] lodged in rock formations that are not very porous,” he said.
Although Bissessar is yet to respond, Barrow said he expects a favorable response from Belize’s “sister Caricom country”, and he went as far to say that he suspects that Bissessar’s government may even choose to “finance the mounting of the mission to Belize” themselves.

“We are seeking expert help from a country that relies heavily on petroleum extraction and trade,” Barrow added, as he explained that the reservoir of thick, heavy crude that Maranco found last month in the Gallon Jug area in the Orange Walk district is trapped under “impermeable rock”, causing the company to so far have little luck in extracting any of oil to determine commerciality.
Speaking to the media soon after the find in late March, Dr. Colin Young, the chief executive officer in the Ministry of Energy Science and Technology, and Public Utilities, said that results from Maranco’s dig at its second appraisal well, located in South Canal Bank Number Three, indicates a promising oil show in the area. He shared that estimates say that the area covers roughly 2,500 to 3,000 acres, and “it potentially can hold up to as much as 50 million barrels of oil.”
Young had also cautioned against raising expectations too high and too soon. “What we do know is that the area has oil and potentially significant amount of oil,” Young explained. “But we want to ensure that the public understands that oil in the ground is very different from oil that you can extract from the ground.”

He had further explained that there are instances in which the amount of oil below the earth can be high, but because it is difficult to extract, it is not commercial oil. “So, in the case of Maranco, what we know is that it is a high porosity; meaning potentially millions of gallons of oil; but we do know that the permeability is very, very low,” Young concluded.

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