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Thursday, 27 March 2014 00:00

oil rig.jpg - 52.75 KbOfficials at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum are 'cautiously optimistic' at an oil find made by Maranco Energy Belize Limited. During the Budget Debate held this week, the Prime Minister announced that the company had made a discovery of an oil field which may contain as much as 50 million barrels of oil. But before anyone can go about jumping to celebrate, there is concern that the oil may not be easily extracted.

Speaking to Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Dr. Colin Young, he told the Guardian that the oil find was made after a third well was drilled in the Maranco exploration block located in Gallon Jug. He said that the third well, Canal Bank Number 3, showed significant potential for oil. This came after the company announced last year that they had struck the oil but were having difficulty in extracting it. Since then the company has sent rock cuttings for analysis and the results of these have shown that the oil is at a 16 API or it is a heavy crude. In comparison, the oil at the Spanish Lookout fields is between 38-40 API, or it is light sweet crude. The lighter the crude, the better flowing it is, there is no such luck with the latest find however.

According to Dr. Young, Maranco has conducted what is known as a drill stem test where the well is pumped for a 24 hour period. That was done for two consecutive days and the extraction only reached at less than 10 barrels a day. In comparison, when the same test was done at Spanish Lookout, 1200 barrels were extracted a day. Even the Never Delay oil field is performing better at 18 barrels per day.

While the tests show that there is oil, the extraction will prove difficult depending on the porosity of the rocks where the oil is, that is, the amount of oil that is trapped in the rocks. Another factor to be considered is the permeability of the rock, that is how much extraction points are available in the rock formation. The third factor to be considered is the cost of extracting the petroleum.

At this stage the Ministry and the Government is not saying that the find is a commercial find or not. Meanwhile Maranco may be looking at capital investors to finance the extraction of the oil. At this point it seems that the oil will not flow freely to the surface therefore the company will have to employ various tactics possibly including the use of chemicals or horizontal drilling to access the oil.

Maranco received its Production Sharing Agreement on May 3rd, 2011 on a 378,000-acre swath of private land in the Gallon Jug area of the Orange Walk District. Drilling at the South Canal Bank started on March 8, 2013, shortly thereafter the company announced that there was the potential of a commercial find in the area. For the time being, there needs to be more wells dug and technologies employed to make the find a commercial one.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2014 15:04