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Central America



Jamaica (and the other islands of the Antilles) is an island arc covered by thick limestone. It lies at the junction of two plates, the northern margin of the Caribbean Plate and the southern margin of the North American Plate.

At the meeting point between these two plates is the tectonically active east-west trending Cayman Trough which extends eastwards from the Gulf of Honduras to the east of Hispaniola. The Trough lies immediately to the north of Jamaica and separates it from Cuba. Jamaica itself is an emergent part of the Nicaraguan Rise, which is a broad, dominantly submerged belt of crustal thickening extending from Honduras to Jamaica.

Thick limestone sequences are present onshore and offshore and many oil and gas seeps have been recognised as well as oil and gas shows in both onshore and offshore wells. However, Globalshift considers that there are few trapping possibilities and limited cap rocks in the sedimentary succession, which is dominated by limestones. Furthermore, the active tectonic history since the Middle Miocene has probably destroyed older accumulations of oil and gas.


The first well drilled onshore Jamaica was in 1955 and a total of around 15 wells were drilled up to 1981 of which 2 were offshore. None have found commercial accumulations of oil or gas although a number of minor oil and gas shows have been recorded.

Some interest is now being expressed by international companies in the Walton and Morant Basins, offshore to the south and southeast of the country and seismic acquisition is planned. However, no wells have been started in Jamaica since 1982.

Globalshift forecasts no oil or gas production from the country in the short or medium term.

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Jamaica Datafiles

Excel files - histories and forecasts of production and wells in any category for all countries and regions