The Gem of the Caribbean

Exploration opportunities in Barbados

With proven onshore potential, Barbados is set to announce a new offshore licensing round.

When in it comes to offshore exploration in the Americas, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and Guyana tend to steal the spotlight. Recent studies in the Caribbean, however, show companies that they may need to look closer at countries with a smaller footprint. One such place is Barbados.

100 Years of Onshore Production

Barbados, a 430 square-kilometer island in the Southeast Caribbean, is best known for its beaches, friendly people, exotic food, world-renowned rum and iconic cricket players. Tourism drives the economy, employing 8 percent of the island’s 280,000 residents and accounting for approximately 12 percent of GDP.

Jamar White, director of the Natural Resources Department at the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, said he hopes that Barbados also will be known for its offshore hydrocarbon potential.

“Despite being classed as a small island developing state with limited natural resources, Barbados boasts over 100 years of onshore oil and gas exploration and production,” he said. “To date, the Barbados National Oil Company has produced in excess of 10 million barrels of oil and 22.8 billion cubic feet of associated gas from its onshore Woodbourne oil field.”

A 14-year ministry veteran, White is responsible for facilitating and promoting the sustainable development and exploitation of the country’s onshore and offshore natural resources. Responsibilities include managing the Offshore Petroleum Program and regulating the Barbados National Oil Company’s onshore operations.

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With proven onshore potential, Barbados is set to announce a new offshore licensing round.

When in it comes to offshore exploration in the Americas, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and Guyana tend to steal the spotlight. Recent studies in the Caribbean, however, show companies that they may need to look closer at countries with a smaller footprint. One such place is Barbados.

100 Years of Onshore Production

Barbados, a 430 square-kilometer island in the Southeast Caribbean, is best known for its beaches, friendly people, exotic food, world-renowned rum and iconic cricket players. Tourism drives the economy, employing 8 percent of the island’s 280,000 residents and accounting for approximately 12 percent of GDP.

Jamar White, director of the Natural Resources Department at the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, said he hopes that Barbados also will be known for its offshore hydrocarbon potential.

“Despite being classed as a small island developing state with limited natural resources, Barbados boasts over 100 years of onshore oil and gas exploration and production,” he said. “To date, the Barbados National Oil Company has produced in excess of 10 million barrels of oil and 22.8 billion cubic feet of associated gas from its onshore Woodbourne oil field.”

A 14-year ministry veteran, White is responsible for facilitating and promoting the sustainable development and exploitation of the country’s onshore and offshore natural resources. Responsibilities include managing the Offshore Petroleum Program and regulating the Barbados National Oil Company’s onshore operations.

White said surface and subsurface geological mapping, well correlation, petrophysical analysis and gravity data have been used to drill over 250 wells onshore. With the onshore potential proven, Barbados now is looking offshore.

Offshore Potential Leads

“Onshore, production is from the Eocene turbidite reservoirs of the Scotland Formation. With respect to the offshore acreage, reservoir targets have been identified in both Neogene and Paleogene aged clastic deposits,” he said.

“Offshore hydrocarbon seep studies have confirmed the presence of migrated hydrocarbons at or near the seabed, with further evidence provided through the presence of direct hydrocarbon indicators on seismic. The potential for commercial quantities of hydrocarbons offshore is further supported by the proven onshore petroleum system on the Barbados Ridge,” he added.

White said that Barbados officials are “extremely confident” in the prospectivity and petroleum potential of the country’s offshore acreage and the country is preparing for further development. To date, Australian petroleum company, BHP, and Spanish energy company, Repsol, have been awarded blocks in the Barbados offshore; with BHP poised to commence exploration in the coming months.

“Barbados has invested heavily in the training and education of its local professionals, to ensure the effective regulation and management of the offshore sector,” he said. Now they are ready to look for additional partners.

“It is the country’s firm belief that partnering with pioneering, ambitious, experienced and technically competent exploration companies will be critical to reaping offshore success and realizing Barbados’ full offshore potential,” he said.

Barbados will launch an offshore licensing round in the fourth quarter of 2019.

AAPG International Pavilion Participation

White and colleagues will promote the licensing round and look for partners at their stand in the International Pavilion at the AAPG International Conference and Exhibition in Buenos Aires on Aug. 27-30.

“Barbados has been showcasing in the International Pavilion at AAPG events for over a decade and has benefitted significantly from the opportunity to mount exhibition booths, network with key players in the industry, give technical presentations, promote the country’s offshore acreage, and explore new partnership opportunities while raising the profile of opportunities in Barbados across the untapped South American and Caribbean region,” he said.

White said he hopes attending events like ICE will help Barbados establish more partnerships that lead to successful development for his country and his people.

“Commercial discoveries in the Barbados offshore will create opportunities for further socioeconomic development and empowerment of the people of Barbados. The investment and revenue generated from creating a successful offshore sector will be used to develop local businesses and enterprises; create niche sectors; facilitate training and capacity building; and help to fast-track the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives across the island,” he said.

White invited colleagues to visit Barbados and to experience the culture and the people.

“Barbados is one of the gems of the Caribbean and its people, known affectionately as ‘Bajans,’ represent the country’s most valuable resource. Unforgettable social, cultural, historical, sporting, culinary and recreational experiences await all visitors to the island,” he said.

Barbados will join other International Pavilion participants Colombia, Greenland, Jamaica, Morocco, Namibia, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Uruguay and Argentine provinces Chubut, Neuquén, Mendoza, Ro Negro and Tierra del Fuego.

For an updated list and International Pavilion Theatre talk schedule see buenosaires2019.iceevent.org.

Information on the Barbados Offshore Petroleum Program is available at www.Energy.gov.bb.

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