The Polarcus Adira seismic vessel has arrived in Jamaican waters to carry out a three-dimensional (3-D) survey to explore for oil and gas offshore of the Caribbean island.
The vessel will explore the waters offshore Jamaica under an agreement the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) had entered into with Tullow Oil, about four years ago. The vessel will comb the waters for a 60-day period.
“This is a historic moment for Jamaica as all our efforts to move our oil and gas exploration forward over the years are finally paying off, and we are looking forward to definitive findings that will keep us moving in the right direction,” Jamaica's Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, said.
The 3-D seismic survey uses sonar-based technology to generate detailed 3-D images of the various rock layers beneath the ocean floor, the PCJ detailed in a release. This data which is found will be analyzed for potential oil and gas reservoirs.
PCJ Group General Manager, Winston Watson, added: “The progression of the oil and gas exploration partnership between the PCJ and Tullow Oil is very encouraging, and the PCJ remains committed to the programme for the long haul and we encourage other exploration firms to consider Jamaica.”
Tullow Oil's operations and external affairs manager for South America and the Caribbean region, John McKenna, assured that the company will use approved measures to prevent any disruption to marine life during the search.
"We have done a large amount of stakeholder engagement and messaging along all the beaches and with the main stakeholders here to try and ensure that they avoid the area during the period that we will be in operation ...but that doesn't mean that they will have to avoid the whole area,” McKenna explained.
"We have a system set up with numbers they can call, and they will be told, say, 48 hours in advance where the vessel is likely to be. So, we hope that the efforts that we have put in place will ensure that this survey goes without (affecting) very much fishing activity because it's a very large amount of equipment and material in the water being towed behind the vessel," the operations manager stated, addressing fisherfolk concerns.
PCJ further explained that the survey vessel will be slow-moving and will use internationally approved 'soft-start methods' to prevent noise from displacing fish.
"This method will not cause any harm to marine life and is similar to shouting under water. Additionally, seismic surveys cannot begin when some, particularly endangered species of marine mammals, are near the sound source."
Observers will be on the vessel to shut down the operation if marine lives are deemed to be under threat, PCJ said.
Tullow Oil previously conducted two-dimensional explorations in 2016 and 2017.