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#424755 - 12/09/11 08:24 PM GOB considers zoning for oil exploration
Marty Offline
But barrier reef still in proposed drilling zones

Government geologist Michelle Alvarez has drafted a proposal for the zoning of Belizean territory for petroleum exploration, which suggests that the Maya Mountain Massif and the Corozal Bay area should be off-limit, and which would require stakeholder consultation for petroleum exploration in many parts of the areas now parceled out in roughly 20 concessions.

On the other hand, much of offshore Belize would be exploitable, with only a portion of the waters in the south of Belize and extreme north of Belize under an oil exploration ban.

The development of the zoning scheme is in line with a commitment by Prime Minister Dean Barrow to introduce zoning for the purposes of petroleum exploration activities.

Putting the Maya Mountain Massif off-limit would remove 14 protected areas from risks associated with oil exploration. Among them are the Bladen Nature Reserve, which has the highest level of protective status and is partly managed by the Ya’axche Conservation Trust; the Caracol Archaeological Reserve, managed by the Institute of Archaeology; the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, co-managed by the Belize Audubon Society (BAS); Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park; the Chiquibul National Park, co-managed by Friends for Conservation and Development; and the Victoria Peak Natural Monument, also co-managed by BAS.

Conservationists have been calling on the Government of Belize to conduct a comprehensive study that would guide them to put a zoning system into effect—but with the view of a ban on exploration in protected areas.

The proposed zoning scheme, however, still envisions exploration in certain protected areas outside the Maya Mountain region. One such case is the Sarstoon-Tamash National Park (STNP), where US Capital Energy is currently exploring for oil.

Whereas conservationists generally see the zoning proposal as a positive step, there are concerns over whether it would truly serve to protect Belize’s natural treasures.

“Let’s keep oil exploration away from the protected areas,” said Edilberto Romero, the executive director of Programme for Belize and the chairman of the Association of Protected Areas Management Organization (APAMO), this February.

“There needs to be a certain level of characterization, so that there are areas that can be zoned as areas off-limit to oil exploration, because of the importance to the environment, because of the importance to the people of Belize. It’s not only the environment – it’s also the people.”

Whereas zone 1 areas are marked “off-limit,” zone 2, which would include Belize City, would be seasonally off-limit, and would require consent from relevant authorities and protected areas managers and major stakeholders, such as those in tourism and agriculture. That could mean that a project like US Capital being undertaken in the STNP would engage much more stakeholder participation that had been required in the past.

As for zone 3 blocks, which would include the entire Turneffe Atolls, Mullins River and Gales Point, the proposal is for consent to be required from both government and protected areas managers.

Zone 4, which includes the nation’s capital Belmopan, would be free for exploration and development of the petroleum industry within the context of the oversight mechanisms that would be in place.

The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage still maintains its stance that there should be NO petroleum exploration offshore Belize and inside protected areas.

We also note that the Barrier Reef, which is a World Heritage Site, is within zones proposed for petroleum exploration and production.

Amandala

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#425202 - 12/14/11 01:52 PM Re: GOB considers zoning for oil exploration [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
BNE Exploration License Awarded To Another Company

Belize Natural Energy has the only commercial oil fields ever found in Belize currently under production, but that company has lost the right to continuing exploration in that bloc.

That area has now been licensed out to Perenco Limited, an Anglo - French -owned, Guatemalan-based company. Director of Geology Andre Cho told us that Cabinet made the decision a few months ago - and a new agreement will be signed in January of next year.

BNE's eight year exploration license for the 500 thousand acre contract area expired in January of this year. BNE felt that it had what one company rep called, a, quote "better than very good chance at at getting the bloc back." Well, how about no chance at all?

Cho told us four companies applied and government found PERENCO to be the most qualified with the most favorable terms. The decision has left BNE more than a little peeved, but it seems not too eager to start a fight with government. The company retains control over the two oil fields it currently has under production in Spanish Lookout and Never Delay. Because oil was discovered in commercial quantities there, BNE will retain control of those fields for 25 years after the commercial declaration was made.

Cho explained that Perenco - which is a multinational oil and gas company - was scored based on technical expertise, financial qualification fiscal terms the work programme that it is proposing.

It's a bitter end to exploration for BNE which has been the only company to find oil in Belize after 50 wells were dug over 50 years and turned up nothing.

But, detractors argue that while it did find commercial quantities in two locations, it has also had no luck in making similar findings in many more structures explored in the same bloc.

Channel 7

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#425231 - 12/14/11 04:19 PM Re: GOB considers zoning for oil exploration [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
I understand BNE fields will be depleted in less than 25 yrs and already are extracting alot less oil per day than before
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Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
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#425234 - 12/14/11 04:41 PM Re: GOB considers zoning for oil exploration [Re: Katie Valk]
Mike Campbell Offline
Yes Katie, from what I have learned the production has dropped in the last year from 5,000 barrels per day to 4,000 per day. This is the reason the government is pushing oil exploration. The input into the government coffers is very significant. I believe that we will never find major oil deposits in Belize or we would have major oil companies here. Our revenues from oil need to be used in ways that will develop the economy and industrial sector so that we will have a replacement for the oil income as it gradually runs out as it surely must and will.

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#425259 - 12/15/11 12:25 AM Re: GOB considers zoning for oil exploration [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Dropped from 5400 to 4000 barrels per day.
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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