Find Oil and Gas expertise in Belize

After years of fruitless searching, light crude oil was accidentally discovered at Spanish Lookout in 2005. The town is located in the sparsely populated Cayo region of Belize, otherwise known for auto parts and agricultural produce. Founded three years earlier with Irish and American investment, Belize Natural Energy (BNE) had been charged with oil exploration in Belize, and was awarded the contract to administer the site. After extensive drilling, the company constructed 15 wells.

The discovery at Spanish Lookout equally helped foster a national oil boom, in a country that had previously enjoyed no fossil fuel industry. Several attempts at petroleum exploration had been made since the 1930s, but discoveries were never commercially viable. BNE invested more than $100 million in exploration at other sites, with production successfully underway at the Never Delays and Blue Creek field sites.

However, all the fields have seen a stark decline since production peaked in 2009, reflecting the national slowdown. At its peak, the Spanish Lookout wells yielded 1.6 million barrels per annum. By 2014 this figure had shrunk to 169,000 barrels and BNE suspended all exploration drilling after its licence ran out in 2012. The national decline also included a government-imposed ban on all off-shore drilling in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon disaster in 2010. In the same year, unprocessed crude oil made up 29 per cent of exports, second only to agricultural exports. Due to rising international oil prices, the industry remains a viable source of revenue for the Belizean government, however.

The Geology and Petroleum Department is affiliated with the Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities, and administers the petroleum industry of Belize. It was originally set up in 1984 as part of a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP helped provide expertise and training in the field, and successfully concluded its part in 1996.

The primary props of the legal framework around governing the industry are the Petroleum Act (last revised in 2000) and the Petroleum Regulations (1992).Together they set out procedures for contracts, state participation, areas of operation, revenue and disputes.The department also issues licences, Production Sharing Arrangements (PSAs), for exploration, and maintains a map of contracts.

Of Belize’s employed adult population, 17.9 per cent work in industry. This includes all oil, gas, mining and quarrying industry as well as public utilities. However, the figure also includes manufacturing and construction industries.

EITI status

Belize is not EITI compliant.

Oil and Gas organisations in Belize
Texaco Belize Ltd