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Belize

Oil rush in northwest Belize?

By Aaron Humes: The march for petroleum revenue has slowed in recent years, with exploration in Toledo stalled by the Maya’s claim for communal land rights, and offshore exploration halted by a moratorium agreed by the Government.

But there is still interest, and the rush may be on again in the northwest corner of Belize, in an area once held by the company Maranco.

On Monday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed that Cabinet discussed splitting up a production sharing agreement already in place for Maranco’s holding and that as many as three companies are interested.

We understand that last week, one of those companies, based out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, disclosed the intention of the Government to sign a PSA for 180,000 acres of concession. It wrote in a release, “The area includes a discovered oilfield along with multiple undrilled prospects having significant resource potential.”

While the Prime Minister did not directly confirm this, it has been noted that in 2013, Maranco faced difficulties extracting oil from a find that was described as an “encouraging oil show”. The company had gotten a 2011 PSA for exploration and production for two years with three possible renewal periods.

P.M. Barrow indicated that new technical expertise and equipment, such as fracking, may be able to get to the “black gold” that Maranco could not access. At the time of the award of the Maranco concession, the environmental community had raised concerns given that the PSA was for an area outside of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area.

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