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United Oil former executive remains onboard as Ja project consultant

Jonathan Leather has resigned as chief operating officer of United Oil & Gas, UOG, effective Thursday, but will stay on as a consultant to the Jamaica project, the oil exploration company has said.

“He remains central to our strategy on Jamaica and we are delighted that he will continue to support the company on a consultancy basis through to the completion of this farmout process. He steps back from his executive role with UOG with our best wishes for his future,” said United Oil CEO Brian Larkin in market filings.

The move signals the continued interest in the project by the UK-based firm. United Oil operates in the United Kingdom, Egypt and Jamaica. The company has four to five months to make a commitment to start test drilling for oil or drop the licence it holds in Jamaica.

Dr Leather, a geologist and two-decade oil industry veteran, joined United Oil as a founding staff member in 2015. His resignation, which took effect on August 31, was disclosed by United Oil just over a week prior to his departure.

“Whilst Jonathan will step back from day-to-day operational activity, given the status of the Jamaica farmout process, he will continue to provide support to the company on a consultancy basis,” said United Oil.

The company has commenced a search process to identify a new COO, and, with effect from September, “Jonathan’s non-Jamaican related responsibilities” will be distributed amongst members of the management team in Dublin and Egypt.

“It has been an incredible eight years with United, and it is very much with mixed emotions that I have made the decision to step down from the executive team,” said Leather in a statement.

“Having been part of the journey that saw the company grow from an idea and a sketched-out plan to the full-cycle company it is today, is without doubt one of the most fulfilling things I have been part of professionally. I am very pleased to continue to be involved with United in an advisory capacity, and will remain a significant shareholder, continuing to support this capable team as they grow the company,” he said.

United Oil holds the right to search for oil offshore Jamaica in the Walton-Morant area, which runs along the southern coast of the island from Morant Bay in St Thomas to Walton in Westmoreland. The zone for exploration spans 22,400 square kilometres offshore.

The oil explorer has until January 2024 to either drill or drop the licence, based on its agreement with the Jamaican Government. The deadline was previously extended from January 2022.

United Oil is searching for a drilling partner to explore for oil in Jamaica. Its consultant, Energy Advisors Group, has put a price tag of US$30 million on a test well. A previous adviser, Envoi Limited, had estimated the cost of drilling at US$35 million.

The most promising zone within the licence is the Colibri area, which incorporates 11 sites.

Colibri potentially holds over 400 million barrels of prospective reserves, which could yield US$2.5 billion at US$60 a barrel, according to United Oil. The test drills will determine whether the substances detected in previous surveys are in fact oil deposits.

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