Is There Oil In The South of Barbados?

Why has the government put oil exploration on the back burner?

Arising from one of the blogs yesterday titled Darcy Boyce Please COMMUNICATE, You Are The Servant the point was made by a Amused that there was exploration on the South East of Barbados many years ago on a land area which spawns Oistins to Silver Sands. The revelation provoked more than a little curiosity in the BU household to follow through on the accuracy of the information. The point was made that the information should be available at the Barbados Archives.

It turns out indeed that the land in question (Oistins to Silver Sands) was recorded on July 25, 1919 in the Courts of Barbados. It was signed by William Kellman Chandler, William Benjamin Hallam Messiah, Henry Graham Yearwood, George Laurie Pile and Charles Ernest Gooding.  The period of the Lease was for 50 years and expired May 12, 1972. British Union Oil Company sold out its interest in the Lease to the Gulf Oil Company.  Government in 1950 nationalised all outstanding oil leases.

In is interesting to note that British Union Oil sold to Gulf Oil and one may reasonably conclude that there had to be some high level of prospectivity in the findings at the time. To be fair, the technology obviously trailed that of today but there was a method back in the day to locating oil we have to admit.

To add to the intrigue the government nationalised the leases. What would have been the consideration for doing so if not monetary? To the layman, and BU is included, there must have been the thinking at the time that oil deposits existed in the area (Oistins to Silver Sands).

Although it is unlikely any government would have the courage to ‘dig up’ Oistins looking for oil, landowners in the area may want to be cautious when considering a decision to SELL! They should go to the Barbados Archives or where ever the information is lodged to be seized with all the information about where their lots land in the tract recorded by the Courts in 1919..

See BU notes below:

LEASE dated 12 May 1922


Helena Thompson (Executrix of the Estate of George Thomas) of the FIRST PART

James Breedy (Carpenter) of the SECOND PART

Robert Knight Berry (Domestic) of the THIRD PART

James Arnold Lynch (Carpenter) of the FOURTH PART

William Nathan Mapp (Oversear) of the FIFTH PART

Julia (surname unreadable) (Washer) of the SIXTH PART

May L. Ramsey (Teacher) of the SEVENTH PART

Walter L. Gollop (Tailor) of the EIGHTH PART

Virginia Ince (Shopkeeper) of the NINTH PART

James H. Agard (Mason) of the TENTH PART

Ida Forde (Domestic) of the ELEVENTH PART

David Marshall (Mason) of the TWELTH PART

William Sandiford (Freighter) of the THIRTEENTH PART

Thomas Ramsey (Carter) of the FOURTEENTH PART

James Alfred Barker (Contractor) of the FIFTEENTH PART

Annie Beatrice Ashby (Married) of the SIXTEENTH PART

Ilma Kathleen Deane (Married) of the SEVENTEENTH PART

James Thomas Scott (Schoolmaster) of the EIGHTEENTH PART

James Cadogan Harding (Carter) of the NINETEENTH PART

William Braithwaite (Husbandman) of the TWENTIETH PART

Elizabeth Braithwaite (Married) of the TWENTY FIRST PART



British Union Oil Company – LESEE

0 thoughts on “Is There Oil In The South of Barbados?

  1. Of course there is oil!

    The same oil that Trinidad is pumping out of the ground runs all the way up to Barbados. at the below link there is an interesting quotation….

    “He explained yesterday that it followed a geological trend, of prospective oil, which runs straight through TTDAA 28 and TTDAA 29 which extends straight up to Barbados.”

    And when Owen took the Trini’s to the UN you all thought it was about fish!

    “Could be resolved over a bowl of corn soup” indeed!

  2. There is oil ok….but the cost (drilling) at this time….those BIG boys…won’t find it a profitable endeavour…given current price per barrel to pursue it…maybe in the future…so we on hold bruds…so is said

  3. The BUOC leases can be found in most land conveyances and mortgages after the owners leased the lands to it.

    The reference usually is found in a whereas clause where the land is described as subject to the unexpired terms of the BUOC lease.

    My impression is that this occurred across the length and breath of Barbados. I think there is a map in the archives showing all the lands leased to BUOC.

    The Scotland District with its “oozing oil” in some parts suggested that it was an oil laden area …. it wasn’t.

    Oil comes out of the ground (kind of like the Beverly Hilbillies) in areas such as the Hill Plantation on the way down to Bawden and River and in the Back River “ravine” to the east of Turner’s Hall Woods.

    For centuries it has been collected and used as medicine … Green Tar”. I have a friend who swears by it!!

    I suspect the BUOC leased most lands in Barbados to secure its position from interlopers while it explored.

    No doubt the owners of the lands appreciated the fact they received some small cash value for signing the lease and still remained the owners of the land.

    The BUOC in turn did not have to find the capital to purchase the land.

    Win win!!

    Oil has mostly been found in the Valley, sometimes referred to nowadays as the St. George Valley but in fact this geologic feature goes right through St. Philip and St. Michael and is probably more properly known as The Valley, its name from the year dot.

  4. FYI FYI FYI…….for ALL from the above link
    Barbados had initiated arbitration proceedings at the Hague-based International Dispute Resolution Centre, on February 16, 2004 under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea after a public row between both countries over the rights of Barbadian fisherfolk to fish in waters off Tobago.

    The judgement had dismissed Trinidad and Tobago’s right to almost 30,000 square nautical miles as near as 40 miles off Oistins and had only ceded a mere 315 nautical miles. The five-member arbitration panel had also established a median line representing the halfway point between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados and affirmed Barbados’ right to a 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as its right to exploit hydrocarbon resources beneath the sea bed as far as 150 nautical miles beyond the 200-nautical mile EEZ.

    The technocrats have expressed concern about Grenada pursuing a similar action like that of Barbados.

  5. @John

    Why do some of us try to explain everything without trying to pursue ‘what if’ based on observation even when fact based info is not yet available? Trinidad a few miles away from Oistins has signed an agreement with Venezuela which challenges our rights off the coast of Oistins. What is in the water ?

  6. I am not saying there is nothing in the water … rather below it.

    I am just trying to show that the BUOC leases are a part of history.

    I suspect, although I have not thoroughly researched it, that at the time prospecting for oil was high all over the world.

    The Oil reserves under Lake Maracaibo were first developed in 1918 and the area became one of the major oil producing areas in the world.

    Because of its shallow draft ocean going tankers could not get in to the oil so smaller tankers were used to ship the oil through a specially dredged channel to a refinery on built on Aruba to process the oil. This refinery was at the time the most modern refinery in the world.

    It produced the 100 octane aviation fuel that gave the Spitfires and Hurricanes parity with the German fighters in the battle of Britain. Its products were central to the Battle of the Atlantic.

    That is why I suspect the US had a naval base in Trinidad at the time without which what would Sparrow have had to sing about.

    I suspect Trinidad developed subsequently as an oil producing nation.

    Logic would dictate that the reserves could extend as far as Barbados and as time progresses they will be exploited.

    I grew up in a household in the 1950’s an 60’s where their existence was often a topic of conversation so the concept is kind of old hat to me.

    Awarenss of history can often remove “whatifs” … or convert them to certainty.

    • @John

      Surely you are aware that the ‘whatif’ term used above should be taken in the context of a less than nascent oil exploration program. Yet we ‘observe’ all and sundry around us are currently aggressive pursuing a program. But as Bajans we can continue to be ambivalent about these things.

  7. Comes down like all the discussion on our “beloved” politicians, to the fact that many in power do not have the knowledge or experience to act properly in our country’s interest.

    They can add numbers and draft laws, … often with serious mistakes, but they are blinkered by their limitations.

    Same old story.

    You will probably find there are serious negotions going on as to “what’s in it for me” and these need to be settled before things can proceed.

  8. @John | April 30, 2012 at 12:49 PM | I had no idea until I read it here on BU that there were Trinidadian and Guyanese interests talking about oil exploration and excavation in Barbados and David was pressing me to provide more details on a comment that I had, largely unwittingly, made, based on information that I had accidentially come across in the Department of Archives about three years ago. I found it interesting as I got family that live in that area of Oistins and I wondered if they had ever realised that those lands were once subject to a lease. So, I made a call and was asked to take down the details,which I did. We had a laugh about it, because I remember when I was a child there were oil derricks up by Kent. I got lucky and discovered that the notes I had taken for the family had been kept and I was able to give the details to David.

    Of course you are right when you say there is a lot of “what’s in it for me” negotiations going on before we poor taxpayers are allowed to know about it. Naturally!!! But now hopefully the landowners are better placed to ask the same question when people try to buy their land for a song.

  9. “For centuries it has been collected and used as medicine … Green Tar”.
    ALMOST CERTAIN THAT THE “GREEN tAR” WAS REFERRED TO AS “manjak”. matter of fact there was a shortlived newspaper bulletin published under the name of “manjak” by admirers of the Black Power Activists in the early 70’s.

  10. I find it incredible that Trinidad should have the testicular foretitude to try and claim oil rights – or any other rights – just 40 miles off the south coast of Barbados. Would they also have started arresting Bajan fishermen catching flying fish within sight of their own country?

  11. Anom
    Time you get to know a “trini”… you forget Kamla wanted something back from those who rec’d Hurricane aid…

  12. Is it reasonable to expect to get a communication on this matter from the government?

    Can we expect an active opposition to pressure government on this matter?

  13. I am pretty sure manjack and Green Tar are different.

    Majack is solid and of low density and Green Tar is liquid.

    Manjack you can find in the hills above Barclays Park where it was once mined I am told . I have seen it on the beach between Consett Bay and Bath.

    I remember Colin Hudson saying Barbados used to export Manjack to Russia where it was used in making a lubricant for locomotives for the sub zero temperatures of the Russian winter.

    My memory isn’t the best so hopefully I am not misleading.

  14. Found this reference to the occurence of petroleum and Manjack in a scanned online book by Harrison/Jukes-Browne.

    “Petroleum and Asphalt. — We have already alluded (p. 14) to
    the occurrence of large quantities of petroleum in the clays and
    sandstones of the Scotland District. At present the industry of
    collecting and refining this substance is in a languishing condition,
    and it is chiefly employed as a lubricant and as a constituent in
    certain quack medicines. But we believe that it might become of great importance to the planters as a fuel for use in the sugar
    works. It might be tried in the present furnaces by steeping the
    cane trash in the petroleum, but to obtain the full advantage of its
    use special furnaces would probably have to be constructed. As a
    matter of supply, we think that larger quantities would be obtained
    if wells were sunk to the north-west of Springfield, and especially
    in the tract of country between Bissex Hill and the great fault
    which traverses the St. Andrew’s Valley.

    In the same strata there are small deposits of asphaltum or pitch
    glance, a substance which is known locally by the name of manjack,
    and has often been mistaken for coal. It differs from coal in being
    fusible by heat, and in being soluble in alcohol, turpentine, &c.

    .Unfortunately very large quantities of this substance occur in
    Trinidad and elsewhere, and consequently it is not likely that the
    Barbadian deposits will ever have much commercial value. It is
    the basis of black varnishes such as ” Brunswick Black,” and
    excellent black varnishes and paints can easily be prepared from it
    by dissolving it in spirits of turpentine, and adding to the solution
    a small quantity of linseed oil to reduce its brittleness when dried.

    It might be used with considerable advantage for making gas,
    but on account of its fusibility special arrangements would be
    required in order to carbonize it. “

  15. I gots nuff experience wid Trinis, all my life. Most nuttn but trouble. Dem people can BOAST!! Some call it LYING!!! Little Texas dey call demselves. HA! So much money they are throwing down the drain there at home and they still want most of ours – and they wonder why we call them Trickidadians.

  16. This matter of oil from Oistin to Silver Sands.Anything to do with the oil which contaminated farmers’ produce and which was the subject of litigation of recent vintage?I seem to recall oil was found in the water wells somewhere in Gibbons but was blamed on a leaking oil pipeline running to the airport?

  17. Speculation is alright but maybe the government should get professionals in there to survey the land to make sure that there is enough oil to drill. Unless there is a great amount of oil …there would be no reason to look for it unless it will be a profitable venture…And Barbados is not financially capable of doing this on their own..Internaonal oil companies would come in and do the prospecting and if there is any prifitabiltiy at all, the oil companies would benefit more than the barbadian People…So guess what…leave the idea alone and continue being the “GEM” of the Carribean…..

  18. If it is something called Hydraulic fracturing Barbados locals and government should be well aware to stay away.Companies using what is called “Fracking” here in the US has had increased earthquakes in places where there wasn’t any!!!!

    • What we already know on BU jumped out of the bag today on the talk show when a caller revealed a private conversation she had with former Ambassador of Caricom Dennis Kellman>>>>OIL!

  19. David how about telling us what jumped out of the bag when a caller revealed a private conversation with Kellman. You hinted at OIL please elaborate thanks.

  20. It is more about what was not stated. The mention of Grenada by the caller who embarrassed Kellman by the reference to a private meeting gave insight that the blocker to the fishing agreement is tied up with the battle for oil rights between the T&T and Barbados.

    So it is not straight forward.

  21. The Trinidadians told Grenada the controversial new blocks are near the maritime border with Barbados. Dont you think Barbados should take active interest in this new Trini claim?

    Trini Express -The boundary was agreed upon in 2008 by former prime minister Patrick Manning and Grenadian Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
    On Sunday, Ramnarine had said there was no potential conflict with Blocks 28 and 29 recently put up for bid and that the blocks were closer to the Barbados maritime boundary which both T&T and Barbados agreed to.
    Despite this, his ministry had previously set up a team to review the boundary issue with the Grenadian Government.

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