Monday, January 31, 2011

Kimano, son of Denys - Oil Prospector!

 Posted: 28/01/2011 - 10:32 AM

Author: Adele Ramos -

Amandala received a revised printed version of Belize’s petroleum contracts map on Wednesday, January 26, showing that a major concession—the largest onshore block—has been granted to a newly formed company, Paradise Energy Limited, whose shareholders are listed as Alfredo Acosta and Kimano Barrow, nephew of Prime Minister Barrow and son of Justice Denys Barrow. The company (in which Barrow holds 50% stake) was formed less than a year ago.

Kimano Barrow, Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission, confirmed via phone that he is a shareholder of the company, but he told us that he has no further comment at this time.

Before we could ask the younger Barrow why he has invested in a concession for an area that government experts have publicly declared has “no petroleum potential,” he dismissed our call, saying he only returned our call because he thought we were calling him about something important.

Amandala was unable to reach Acosta, who we understand has interest in another petroleum concession granted under the People’s United Party administration.

The concession area which Barrow and Acosta have acquired spans the Maya Mountain Massif, and includes some of Belize’s most prized forests, particularly the area spanning the Chiquibul, where gold prospects are said to be very promising. (See map)

In our July 1, 2010, headline story captioned “Broke, no experience, but gets oil concession!!” we had reported on a statement made to us by Director of Geology and Petroleum, Andre Cho, that no contracts were given out for the Maya Mountains area, because it is not a sedimentary basin.

A Canadian company going by the name Centam Canadian Energy Corporation had, nonetheless, won a concession for the Maya Mountains under the Musa administration in January 2008.

Cho had told Amandala back in July 2010 that that company, owned by an Arab, Bassam Al-Sarraj, was a “fly by night” venture. “He got it under [Florencio] Marin,” Cho said, claiming that there is no petroleum potential in that portion of Belize.

He had also told Amandala that the Canadian company did not pay the first year of fees and the concession was cancelled. The BZ$300,000 that comes in yearly from such concessions is “enough to pay some bills,” Cho had told us.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow told Amandala this evening when we asked him about Paradise Energy Limited that “the name doesn’t ring a bell.” When we told him that his nephew is a shareholder, he said, “I don’t know about that.”

The Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega, who Amandala was unable to reach today, brings those contracts to Cabinet, and if the company got a concession, then it would have had to have been after Cabinet consideration, said the Prime Minister.

If indeed Kimano got a concession, then “bully for him,” Prime Minister Barrow commented, saying that his nephew would have gotten the contract “fair and square.”

He went on to say that he is sure that the concession is “in some low potential area.”

He insists that Toledo is the most promising part of the country for petroleum exploration, and reiterates his government’s position that it will allow petroleum exploration onshore Belize—not barring such activities in protected areas.

This Tuesday, the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage held a press conference to reiterate its call on Government to ban petroleum exploration offshore Belize and inside protected areas.

For Barrow, the Supreme Court has already established that petroleum exploration can be done inside protected areas. He said that he will await the results of a national referendum, for which the Coalition is calling, to finally decide how to proceed with new petroleum contracts offshore.

Yesterday, Oceana issued a call on Government to not issue any further offshore contracts in light of its finding that the Chinese Petroleum Corporation, owned by the state of Taiwan, had relinquished its entire offshore concession for 1.139 million acres. The contract was acquired through CPC’s overseas arm — Overseas Petroleum Investment Corporation.

Oceana says, “Among the reasons OPIC is abandoning its lease is the growing public opposition to any oil exploration and development that would harm the country’s prized barrier reef.”

It points out that the government did not make this relinquishment public—but neither did the government report that concession areas in Orange Walk for two other companies—RSM Production Corporation of the USA and West Bay Belize Limited—were also vacated during 2010, our newspaper has observed.

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