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Jamaica is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles, south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. When under Spanish rule it was known as Santiago.

The Arawak and Taíno people, who migrated from South America, began to settle the island before 3000 BC. It was populated with indigenous people when Columbus arrived in 1494 after which Spain ruled up to 1655, introducing slaves. Most of the indigenous people were wiped out.

England conquered the island in 1655, renaming it Jamaica. It became a world leading sugar-exporting nation, dependent on slaves from Africa who eventually outnumbered whites by 9 to 1. After abolition of the trade by Britain in 1807, Asians supplemented the labour force.

In the 20th Century the country gained progressive independence from the UK, joining the Federation of the West Indies in 1958. Full independence was achieved in 1962 when it left the federation.

The economy now depends on tourism, manufacturing, aluminium and agriculture but the country has struggled to grow its economy.

Jamaica was formed as part of the Antillean island arc and comprises eastern mountains, central valleys and plateaus, and coastal plains. Although a few wells have been drilled both on and offshore, and some oil and gas seeps and shows have been recognised, no discoveries have been made.

Traps are rare, there are few cap rocks in a sedimentary succession dominated by limestones. Furthermore the active tectonic history since the Middle Miocene has probably destroyed any potentially commercial accumulations.

Consequently the country has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore. It is unlikely to achieve any significant production onshore in the foreseeable future.

Some interest is being expressed by international companies in the Walton and Morant Basins, offshore to the south and southeast of the country, however no output is forecast by Globalshift for at least the short and medium term.


Map and National Flag


Beach resort

Central America


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Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

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Gas cons (bcm/yr)



2.8 mm






Brief history of the country

Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy with the UK monarch as head of state, represented by a Governor-General who is nominated by the Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Parliament is bicameral, with elected members of the House of Representatives and an appointed Senate.

The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) manages the country’s energy needs under the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM).

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