|USGS: Bahamas holds up to 4.3Bn barrels of oil|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Jun 18, 2012
A new report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has assessed the "Bahamas Platform" as holding total undiscovered oil reserves of up to 4.3 billion barrels.
The study, entitled "Assessment of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources of South America and the Caribbean, 2012", provides an objective, third-party examination of this country's oil reserves. According to the report, The Bahamas has an average potential of 1.9 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
There is approximately a five percent chance it has 4.3 billion, a 50 percent chance it has 1.59 billion, and a 95 percent chance of at least 554 million barrels of oil lurking under the ocean floor.
The Bahamas ranked high on a list of 31 countries, although failed to come even close to a number of other countries in the region. Cuba, now starting to drill in multiple locations off the northern coast, is assessed to have nearly double the amount of undiscovered and technically recoverable oil reserves.
Venezuela, The Falklands, Guyana and Brazil all have larger potential oil deposits, according to the report.
In the first study of its kind since 2000, the USGS estimated there are around 126 billion barrels of oil and 678 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered national gas in 31 geologic providences of South America and the Caribbean. It effectively confirms what oil explorers and investors have suspect for some time – that the region, and The Bahamas, is emerging as a possible oil-producing powerhouse.
"The methodology for the assessment included a complete geologic framework description for each province based mainly on published literature and definition of petroleum systems and assessment units within these systems," the report stated. "Exploration and discovery history was a critical part of the methodology to determine sizes and numbers of undiscovered accumulations."
The report is intended to measure the potential for undiscovered oil reserves, however, and does not provide a concrete assurance on whether these countries will strike pay dirt.
Nevertheless, the vote of confidence from the USGS should come as welcomed news to investors in the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC), but to mention large segments of the Bahamian people.
Share price at BPC ended the day Friday up 4.19 percent, resting at 7.71 pence.
BPC executives held a shareholder presentation in London late last week, and announced "farm-in" negotiations have begun to bring in a major partner for financing and operators. Guardian Business understands that the data room, where analysts have been pouring over 3D seismic testing, has now closed.
The detailed information is thought to be worth hundreds of millions, and executives share the data based upon requests from oil and gas companies and other stakeholders.
Back in February, executives at BPC described the nature and location of a "world class trap" near the Cuban border. More than 5km wide and 75km long, the giant bull's eye appears to be as promising and structurally sound as those seen in oil-rich nations such as Iraq and Iran.
A Russian company, Zarubezhneft, is now planning to spud an exploratory well near the proposed BPC site. That drill is expected to occur this summer despite the risks associated with hurricane season.
The results from this exploratory well could provide the best clue yet as to the prospect of recoverable oil fields in The Bahamas.