PCJ to Receive Round 2 Exploration Proposals through June

State-run Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) will receive proposals through June 1 to explore offshore and onshore areas in a second oil and gas-licensing round, PCJ special projects director Raymond Wright told BNamericas.

The onshore blocks are Negril (2,856 sq km), Windsor (2,446 sq km), Portland (4,309 sq km) and Santa Cruz (1,416 sq km). The offshore areas range from 1,924-26,780 sq km for a total of 104,262 sq km.

This round does not entail a formal bidding process but only the submission of informal bids. The previous deadline to submit proposals was May 1.

Although this round has sparked a lot of attention, names of companies that have expressed interest cannot be released at this time, Wright said.

"This can only be done when we are about to negotiate production-sharing arrangements with companies," Wright said.

Nevertheless, Jamaica's industry, technology, energy and commerce ministry reported Anglo-Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-B), Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and US firm Murphy Oil have expressed interest.

The ministry adds that US$50,000 data packages have generated revenue of over J$22mn (US$381,000).

Contracts would entail five-year exploration and 20-year production periods, with an optional 10-year production extension. The maximum income tax rate would be 33.3%, although there could be an exemption for a number of years.

Excess gas could go to create methanol, fertilizer, urea or LNG, among other products.

According to the government, attractive factors include low entry costs, well locations in shallow-to-moderate water depths, a relinquishment option at the end of each concession period and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and other US markets.

Australian company Finder Exploration and Canada's Rainville Energy in 2005 picked up five and three offshore Jamaican blocks respectively that in total cover 23,193 sq km.

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