Jamaica, often regarded for its sun sand and sea, has been undergoing a major shift in Jamaica’s oil and gas exploration since 2006 with the signing of contracts to acquire in the vicinity of 15,000 line kilometres of 2D seismic offshore Jamaica. Once acquired and processed, this updated seismic data allowed for the transition of play concepts found onshore to be mapped and extended into the offshore environs. This evolution of the Jamaican geology generated interest from various operators that derived clastic and carbonate plays offshore being charged by both Cretaceous and Tertiary source rocks. 

In 2014, Tullow Oil plc (Tullow) signed a production sharing agreement (PSA) to explore 10 of the 31 blocks offshore, and after detailed geological work onshore, decided to shoot over 3,000 kilometres of additional seismic in 2016 and over 700 kilometres in 2017. Once interpreted, they reconfirmed that potential play-concepts extended from onshore to the offshore with attendant risks. One positive from the surveys was that Miocene faulting that may have breached many traps onshore was not evident offshore, potentially leaving many traps intact offshore. The main lead identified by Tullow in the Walton/Morant Basin is ‘Colibri’ which is considered to contain potential reserves of 200 to 300 MMBO. Another positive also occurred in 2017 with United Oil and Gas (UK), farming in for 20 per cent with Tullow. 

Further positive news came from CGG Robertson which conducted a detailed petroleum geological evaluation of Jamaica (Red Book) in 2017. This study closed out a missing link in the active petroleum system of Jamaica by identifying and testing two never before seen live oil seeps onshore Jamaica of Cretaceous age and correlating them to known source rocks onshore. An additional offshore Cretaceous oil seep was discovered by Tullow in 2016. These three new oil seeps point to a working Cretaceous petroleum system. A second Tertiary petroleum system was previously identified. 

On the basis of the 2016 and 2017 2D seismic survey and the confirmation of a working petroleum system with numerous leads, in 2018, Jamaica’s first-ever 3D seismic survey was acquired over the Walton Morant Basin. Approximately 2,200 square kilometres of high-resolution images were acquired over the Colibri lead and the surrounding areas. 

At present in Jamaica, the fast track data volume will be delivered by the end of July to the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and continued processing and interpretation will take place over the next 10-12 months. The fast track will be analysed by both Tullow and PCJ to improve reserve calculations and correctly identify structural features and map play-concepts more effectively. Tullow will also use this data to guide their drill or drop decision in 2020. 

Other explorers are also knocking at the door for opportunities to come into Jamaica, and currently negotiations are being held with one additional company to conclude PSAs in the near future. The private sector and various government entities are very enthusiastic about the positive evolution of the hydrocarbon story in Jamaica and they anticipate the potential benefits it could bring to a country that is already blessed with so many other resources.