Category Archives: Bahamas

Bahamas oil drilling could begin by 2012


By David Goodhue

As state, local and federal officials brace for a major offshore drilling operation to begin between Cuba in Key West in December, another exploratory well may be drilled a year later in the Bahamas.

The Bahamian and Cuban governments on Oct. 3 signed an agreement delimiting the two nations’ maritime borders after nearly 40 years of negotiations. The move cleared a major obstacle in the way of the Bahamas’ oil exploration goals since leases identified for their potential oil finds are near Cuban waters.

“Without the agreed border between the Bahamas and Cuba, there would be some uncertainty as to who actually owned the licenses,” Paul Gucwa, chief operating officer of the Bahamas Petroleum Co., told The Reporter in an email.

BPC is looking to partner with a major oil company to explore one of its four wells southwest of the Bahamas’ Andros Island. This would place yet another major drilling operation less than 200 miles from Florida’s coast.

A giant Italian-owned, Chinese-made semi-submersible oil rig is expected to begin drilling 6,000 feet below the surface in the Florida Straits in December. The Spanish oil company Repsol will be the first of nearly a dozen foreign energy companies to use the Scarabeo 9 rig to search for oil about 60 miles away from Key West.

Gucwa said the BPC plans to “spud” its first well in December 2012. The Bahamian government has a moratorium on granting new exploration licenses, but Jorge Piñon, a senior research associate at Florida International University, said that could change following the country’s May 2012 general elections. Piñon will discuss Cuba’s offshore energy plans at the Florida Keys EcoSummit in Key West on Nov. 3.

The Bahamas Petroleum Co. has contacted 10 major international oil companies about partnering in its oil exploration operations. Gucwa would not disclose the names, but said seven companies have visited BPC’s offices in Nassau.

Bahamian business leaders are pushing lawmakers in that country to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas exploration as a way to reduce the nation’s $4-billion-plus national debt, according to the Bahamian newspaper The Tribune.

The moratorium on new licenses was put in place following the 2010 DeepWater Horizon Macondo disaster that spilled millions barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gucwa said a similar type of spill could not happen in the Bahamas. In the Gulf of Mexico, the sediments consist of rapidly deposited sands and shales. As the sediments are quickly buried, water often times cannot escape and high and abnormal pressure develops.

The sediments in the Bahamas, Gucwa said, are carbonates that precipitate from sea water and are deposited “quite slowly.”

“It’s uncommon for high pressure to develop in these environments,” Gucwa said.

Original Article

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