BNE's Susan Morrice: "Laughing All the Way to the Bank"

[Linked Image] An article appearing in the Belfast Telegraph – a newspaper from Ireland – has been raising eyebrows here in Belize. It’s about Belize Natural Energy principal Susan Morrice, who is Irish. The article says, “Irish investors are laughing all the way to the bank after striking black gold in Central America. Hundreds of people from Northern Ireland and the Republic have just received their first payout after taking a gamble on a Belfast-born oil baroness”

That so called “oil baroness” is the description lavished on Morrice, presumably for the fortune she has amassed from harvesting Belizean oil. It goes on, “...investors, who shared a pot of $10m, (and some) received payouts of up to $750,000.” The article explains that Morrice privately raised the capital needed to finance the oil exploration at Spanish Lookout from small investors in Ireland. On Christmas Day, those investors got their return on investment and the article portrays it as a windfall.

The article quotes Josh Stewart, an Irish director with Belize Natural Energy (BNE), as saying, "investors who... have invested in this company.... got their first, significant and massive dividend (at Christmas)." The article also provides us with hard news, saying that BNE declared its second oil field last month. This is presumably the much discussed field in Never Delay – which according to Deputy Director of the Department of Geology Craig Moore is still being appraised.

Speaking this afternoon, Moore said that it still has not been confirmed to their Department that the oil field is commercial. Well, not confirmed in Belize but apparently in Belfast that’s accepted fact. Moore could not comment on a further claim made directly by Morrice in the article that the Spanish Lookout oil field has 20 million barrels of oil recoverable when previously it was thought to have six million barrels. He referred us to Department Director4 Andre Cho who was out of Office.

The article says that BNE pumps 5,000 barrels of oil per day from 10 wells at Spanish Outlook – and had a gross revenue of $112m in 2008. It ends on the boast made directly by Morrice that BNE has become, "....the number one revenue generator in the whole country in less than three years; it's phenomenal, it's another unheard of thing.” With that, the articles candy-coated conclusion is, “so the crude oil in Spanish Lookout has not only made Ms Morrice....a lot of money but it has allowed Belize to dream of energy independence and a better future for this poor nation.” It is a bizarre, laughable statement, and one on which we’ll reserve comment.

Live and let live