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Apr 27, 2001

Min. optimistic over oil, but awaits research

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It’s no secret that last month people drilling a water well near Calla Creek in the Cayo District found oil instead. On Thursday News 5′s Ann-Marie Williams asked Natural Resources Minister Johnny Briceno about the prospects for a gusher and what happens next.

Johnny Briceno, Min. of Natural Resources

When it came to our knowledge, the first thing we decided to do was to take a sample and send it abroad to study. Because it could have been a hoax, somebody could have poured oil in the well. We sent it to study, and it came out that it was the real thing. So we took another sample, a fresher sample, and sent it to Houston. When it came back, again it shows that yes, it is traces of oil. Now traces have been found, but we do not know if there is enough for commercial quantities, which is the challenge. This has happened before in the Cayo District, Orange Walk, here in the Belmopan area, they found a well, but it was not in enough commercial quantities. I’ve seem pictures down south in the Toledo area, where there’s seepage in the ground, but we still haven’t been able to determine if there is in commercial quantities.”

“They have not been awarded and exportation licence. They have been given an agreement where they are allowed to go into the area and just do studies for them to decide if they want to proceed further. I understand that the company plans to spend between two and three million to do these studies. Based on these studies, they will decide if the want to proceed or not. It is at that point that they would then sit down and negotiate with the Department of Geology, what we call a production sharing agreement where… It’s a long process, and it states that should they strike oil, they’re going to work out a royalty between them and the Government of Belize.”

What typically happens in these situations is that the local company finds a bigger one from abroad to put up the research money in exchange for a big piece of the action. Dozens of wells have been drilled all over Belize’s land and sea over the last fifty years with no commercial success.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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