I wish to congratulate Touchstone Exploration Inc. on their discovery in their Cascadura- 1ST1 well which was drilled in their Ortoire license in south eastern Trinidad. Touchstone was formally awarded the license for the Ortoire block October 31st, 2014 following a successful competitive land bid round in 2013/2014 that saw the award of three blocks to three companies. It was always expected that these three land blocks had the potential to resuscitate land-based oil production in T&T and stimulate economic activity in the south eastern part of the island.
The Cascadura well is the second successful exploration well drilled by Touchstone in Ortoire in 2019. It follows the Coho-1 well that was drilled some months ago and which encountered natural gas. What is significant about the Cascadura well is the fact that it has discovered crude oil in 1,037 feet of total net oil pay which makes it a potentially significant discovery and potentially the most significant discovery on land since the 2002 discovery of the Carapal Ridge ( now Shell Central Block). Given that Touchstone has more exploration wells planned and their growing understanding of the geology there is the potential for more discoveries in Ortoire in 2020.
The success of Touchstone underscores the need for the Ministry of Energy to be continuously awarding acreage for exploration. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened in the last four years. For the period 2016 to 2018, the Ministry of Energy has awarded zero hectares of acreage for exploration -a trend will have most likely continued into 2019. From 2011 to 2015, the Ministry of Energy awarded 1.418 million hectares of acreage for exploration. This aggressive stance of the Ministry of Energy in awarding acreage was greatly encouraged and supported by the pro-investment disposition of former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. I also take this opportunity to give credit to all the staff of the Ministry of Energy who worked tirelessly on various bid rounds under my tenure. The country is better off for their efforts.