Oil Explorer 'expects' JV talks start this month
06 October 2011
Published On:Thursday, October 06, 2011
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A Bahamas-based oil exploration company is expecting to this
month start receiving bids from oil majors over a potential
exploratory drilling joint venture in this nation's waters, having
collected "several trillion bits of data" in its 3D seismic survey
of its licence fields.
Responding to Tribune Business's e-mailed questions, Dr Paul
Gucwa, the Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) chief operating
officer, said the company had now closed its data room to
interested parties, and was awaiting bids from major international
Confirming that Bahamas Petroleum's 3D seismic testing was
complete, Dr Gucwa said the company would receive 'fast track'
findings from it in December, with full results emerging in the
2012 second quarter.
And, with Bahamas Petroleum due to deliver its Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA) to the Bahamas Environment, Science and
Technology Commission (BEST) this month, Dr Gucwa said he was also
set to give presentations as to why a 'Macondo'-type spill, which
resulted from the destruction of British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater
Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, could not happen in Bahamian
Asked by Tribune Business about the status of Bahamas
Petroleum's negotiations on a joint venture tie-up with an oil
major to begin exploratory drilling in this nation, Dr Gucwa
responded: "We have closed our data room, and now are waiting to
see which companies will submit bids and enter into negotiations.
We expect to start receiving bids in October.
"The 3D seismic acquisition is completed, and we are now in the
process of processing the several trillion bits of data collected.
We will get our 'fast track' processing in December, and the final
processing late in the 2012 second quarter.
"I will be reviewing the processing plans on Friday. These data
will allow us to finalise a location, help us better understand the
'Jurassic' section below 20,000 feet, and will provide the best
available data to plan a safe well."
Dr Gucwa last month told this newspaper that seven major
international oil companies had either visited Bahamas Petroleum's
data room or expressed an interest in doing so, though he declined
to name them.
The company, which has its Bahamian offices in East Bay Street's
Montague Sterling Centre, is hoping to conclude negotiations with a
'preferred' joint venture partner by the 2012 first quarter, giving
the two parties one year to plan their first well in detail.
The joint venture involves drilling wells in the five areas for
which the Bahamas Petroleum Company holds licences, and Dr Gucwa
previously told this newspaper they wanted to begin drilling the
inaugural well before year-end 2012.
Addressing the safety and environmental concerns raised by the
explosion that destroyed BP's Gulf of Mexico rig, Dr Gucwa told
Tribune Business: "Later this month I will begin making
presentations that will outline how the Bahamas is geologically
different from the US Gulf of Mexico, and why a 'Macondo'-type
spill could not happen here.
"The US Gulf of Mexico consists of rapidly deposited sandstones
and shales. These sediments are deposited undercompacted, with a
large amount of water in the pore space. As the sediments are
buried, which happens quite rapidly geologically in these
sediments, if the water cannot escape high pressures begin to
"High or abnormal pressure is a common occurrence in the US Gulf
of Mexico because of this. The sediments in the Bahamas are
carbonates that precipitate from sea water very slowly, are not
very compressible, and the development of high pressures due to
rapid burial does not occur. That is not to say there are no
drilling issues, and proper planning is essential. That is why we
would like to get a partner by the first quarter next year, so we
will have a year to carefully plan the well along with our
emergency management plan."
While unable to speak for the Government, and its efforts to
develop a regulatory and environmental safety framework for the
industry, Dr Gucwa said: "I believe they are moving forward with
their efforts to develop regulations.
"In the meantime, we are aware of the requirements of Norway,
the UK and the US, and are striving to meet or exceed these
regulations as we move forward with our well planning."
As for the agreement finally signed this week between the
Bahamas and Cuba, which determined the maritime borders between the
two nations, Dr Gucwa said: "Had the border not been agreed, there
would be some question as to the extent of our licences and whether
a portion was actually owned by Cuba. The agreed border is outside
of our licenses and we are entirely within Bahamas waters."
Four of Bahamas Petroleum's five licence areas border the
boundary with Cuba. One of the three licences it holds in a joint
venture with the Norwegian company, Statoil, also borders Cuba.
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