HAITI Earthquake May Have Exposed Gas, Aiding Economy

Posted on January 27, 2010


Well, well, well . . . the plot thickens.  STAY TUNED! 

Haiti Earthquake May Have Exposed Gas, Aiding Economy 

By Jim Polson

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The earthquake that killed more than 150,000 people in
Haiti this month may have left clues to petroleum reservoirs that could aid
economic recovery in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, a geologist

The Jan. 12 earthquake was on a fault line that passes near potential gas
reserves, said Stephen Pierce, a geologist who worked in the region for 30
years for companies including the former Mobil Corp. The quake may have cracked
rock formations along the fault, allowing gas or oil to temporarily seep toward
the surface, he said yesterday in a telephone interview.A geologist, callous as it may seem, tracing that fault zone from
Port-au-Prince to the border looking for gas and oil seeps, may find a
structure that hasn’t been drilled,” said Pierce, exploration manager at
Zion Oil & Gas Inc., a Dallas- based company that’s drilling in Israel. “A
discovery could significantly improve the country’s economy and stimulate
further exploration.”

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive met yesterday in Montreal with
diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to discuss
redevelopment initiatives. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon
said wind power may play a role in rebuilding the Caribbean nation, where
forests have been denuded for lack of fuel, the Canadian Press reported.Haiti, from the standpoint of oil and gas exploration, is a lot less
developed than the Dominican Republic,” Pierce said. “One could do a lot
more work there.”

Abraham Lincoln’s Consul

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It may have
3 million barrels of oil in a shallow offshore formation that’s probably also
shared by Haiti, Pierce said.One of the main reasons for the dearth of information on reserves in Haiti
is that the Dominican Republic has numerous surface-hydrocarbon seeps while
Haiti had very, very few,” he said.

Abraham Lincoln’s consul to the Dominican Republic reported oil seeps there
in 1862. Neither nation produces oil or gas. As much as 1 trillion cubic feet
of gas may be trapped in a border formation near the earthquake fault, Pierce

Pierce hasn’t worked in Hispaniola since joining Zion in February 2005. He
said he’s unaware of any petroleum geologists conducting fieldwork in Haiti.
There has been exploration of Ocoa Bay, the largest potential oil deposit in
the Dominican Republic, he said.

600,000 Without ShelterAll basins cross the border,” said Paul Mann, co-author of a 1991 paper in
the Journal of Petroleum Geology on Hispaniola’s petroleum potential. The
paper concluded that “existing seismic data indentify undrilled prospects.”

More than 600,000 people are without shelter in the Port- au-Prince area, the
United Nations said Jan. 22. The 7.0- magnitude quake destroyed about one-third
of the buildings in Port-au-Prince. It also knocked out the capital’s seaport
and water and sewage systems.Relief and recovery for the survivors is the priority now,” Mark Fried, a
spokesman for British charity Oxfam, said in a statement. “Hundreds of
thousands who lost everything but their lives” need water, shelter and
toilets to stop the spread of disease, he said.Colossal’ Reconstruction

Haiti will need “massive support” for a “colossal” reconstruction from
the earthquake, Bellerive said at the meeting yesterday in Montreal.

The Greater Antilles, which includes Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic,
Puerto Rico and their offshore waters, probably hold at least 142 million
barrels of oil and 159 billion cubic feet of gas, according to a 2000 report by
the U.S. Geological Survey. Undiscovered amounts may be as high as 941 million
barrels of oil and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the report.

Among nations in the northern Caribbean, Cuba and Jamaica have awarded offshore
leases for oil and gas development. Trinidad and Tobago, South American islands
off the coast of Venezuela, account for most Caribbean oil production,
according to the U.S. Energy Department.

--With assistance from Alexandre Deslongchamps in Ottawa and Peter S. Green in
New York. Editors: Tony Cox, Charles Siler.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at
+1-212-617-5293 or jpolson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Cox at +1-713-651-4610
or acox3@bloomberg.net.