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Exploration and Production

Fig 1: Drilling Rig

Our main focus is the onshore exploration and production of Barbados’ hydrocarbon resources.  The company continues to explore and review new geophysical concepts with the hope of finding some exploration technique which would assist in unraveling the complex geology and thereby provide more successful drilling locations.  EM technology and down-hole seismic acquisition are some of the new concepts being considered for the Woodbourne Field. 

BNOCL has employed various drilling concepts over time to determine what is best suited for exploitation of the hydrocarbon reserves.  Most of the wells are vertical however in recent times more directional wells have been completed while 5 horizontal wells have been drilled to target specific horizons.  The company owns a Cabot 750 drilling rig. 

Woodbourne is our main area of operation.  Wells are typically 6000 feet deep with roil reservoir sands occurring between 2000 and 6000 feet.  To date over 200 wells have been drilled in the Woodbourne Development area.

Typically most wells have sufficient reservoir pressure to flow to the surface when initially completed but once the reservoir pressure declines a beam pumping unit is utilised to continue production. The pumping unit is powered by an engine, which in most cases is fueled by natural gas produced from the well.  In other cases, the prime mover is an electrical motor.

Fig 2: Pumping Unit (Nodding Donkey)

To bring the oil to the surface a slender pump is installed in the well. The fluid reaching the surface in most cases is not pure oil, but a mixture of oil, water and gas, which is sent to a treatment plant known as the ‘heater-treater’ to separate the gas and water from the crude oil (Figure 4).  The gas is first separated from the mixture leaving a water/oil combination.  This combination is then heated with a demulsifier to speed up the separation of the water from the mixture and leaves what is referred to as the treated crude oil. 

This oil is then stored in storage tanks until it is piped to the Barbados National Oil Terminal Limited (Figure 5).  From there it is shipped to Trinidad where it is refined at the Petrotrin Refinery.  The equivalent quantity of fuel oil is brought back to Barbados, where it is utilised by the Barbados Light & Power for the generation of electricity.  Currently, oil production is approximately 820 barrels of oil per day.  BNTCL also purchases from Petrotrin gasoline, diesel and kerosene as required by the country.

The natural gas that is collected at the Heater Treaters is sent via pipelines to the ‘Gas Plant’  located at Woodbourne (Figure 6).  BNOCL produces approximately 2,000 MCF/day (million cubic feet per day) of gas.  Some of this produced gas is used at Woodbourne for Field and Plant operations; however, the majority of natural gas is compressed and sold to theNational Petroleum Corporation (NPC).  NPC through its pipeline distribution network then sells this gas to its 13,500 + customers, where it is used for domestic and commercial purposes.

oil pump
Fig 3: Oil Pump
Fig 4: Treatment Plant
Fig 5: Storage Tanks
Fig 6: Gas Plant


  • Environmental:  We have undertaken a water quality monitoring programme since 1997.
  • Reservoir characterisation (Upstream): We conduct sieve analysis of sand as part of our reservoir characterisation.
  • Fuel testing (Downstream):  BNTCL’S facility is equipped with a small laboratory to carry out field testing as required by international standards such as Joint Inspection Guidelines  for the storage and handling of  aviation fuel. It is currently building its inventory of equipment with a view of becoming accredited to ISO standards and becoming self sufficient in the testing and analysis of all petroleum products.



BNOCL sells bunkers to Esso Standard Oil through an Agreement.  These bunkers are used mostly for the bunkering of Cruise Liners and any others vessels.



BNOCL presently has a three year contract with PG Tankers Inc. for the lease of one their vessels.  This tanker is configured to carry both white and black products, and has carries a capacity of 80,000 bbls, with 36,000 bbls being allocated for black product and the remainder 44,000 bbls for white products.



BNTCL was established to manage the importation, storage and distribution of the country’s gasoline, diesel and fuel oil, as well as the exportation of crude oil.  The fuels are stored at the BNTCL's Fairy Valley Facility, with the exception of heavy fuel oil which is stored at the Esso Holborn terminal. 

Gasoline and diesel are carried to Fairy Valley and crude oil from Fairy Valley via pipeline leading from the Oistins Berth where the tankers dock.

BNTCL also imports, stores and distributes aviation fuel , jetA1, on behalf of the Major oil companies, SOL, Esso and Chevron. The majority of the Jetfuel imported is transferred to the Joint venture facility at the airport where it is then used to fuel aeroplanes. Additionally, some of it is transferred via pipeline to the adjacent Barbados Light and Power plant where it is used to generate electricity.   It is also sold as kerosene at the loading rack where trucks collect it for domestic consumption.