BNE’s oil exploration license drying up

Belize National Energy is one of about a dozen registered oil companies in Belize. It has the distinction of being the only company that has found oil in commercial quantity. The oil taxes play a significant role in the country’s revenues; in fact BNE is the biggest tax payer to government. BNE has found oil at another site, which is expected to produce much less than the current field, but wants to continue to explore for petroleum. But as BNE’s Marketing Manager said this morning, the company’s exploration license expires at the end of the month.

Daniel Guttierez, Marketing and Corporate Communications Manager, BNE.

Daniel Guttierez

“Our exploration license comes to an end in January 2011 so we are on it already. Really we can only explore up to January 2011 and then we can only produce the fields that we have. We know that we will be able to produce Never Delay. As the Prime Minister mentioned there is interests in the western part of the Cayo District. We feel that we will be able to do something that is commercial and we feel that we will be able to produce that for the good of the country as well—that field although it is small and marginal at this point that’s how it looks. There is another east of the Never Delay field, there is also some potential there. So a number of exciting things have happened, but at the end of the day we can really only produce because exploration comes to an end in 2011. We’ve asked the government of Belize to consider BNE. Really we are the only oil company that has found oil. We feel that we have the expertise, we have the Belizeans, we have the equipment and the knowhow to continue finding oil. So we’re asking them to extend our exploration so we can find more oil.”

Marleni Cuellar

“And what’s the status on that so far?”

Daniel Guttierez

“It is being considered, that’s my understanding. I don’t want to say where the government of Belize is on that—it’s a sovereign decision. But I think that given that we are Belizean oil company, given the fact that we have over two hundred staff at BNE—ninety-six percent of whom are Belizean, the fact that our senior manager with the exception of one manager is entirely Belizean—forty percent female. I think we stand a good chance. I think that we’ve proven that we can produce oil responsibly in Belize. And I believe now with the LPG project—butane, propane—and with our studies of the diesel production unit, we have proven that we are willing and able to look beyond not only oil production and exportation but rather to see how we can bring the expectations cause Belizeans are always asking and rightly so; “Where is the oil I want to see it?”

Gutierrez said that BNE has been giving free butane to villagers. The company intends to produce cheaper butane for the local market.

Channel 5