ExxonMobil Continues Run of Oil Discoveries Off Guyana

The Noble Tom Madden (file image courtesy Noble Drilling)

Published Sep 16, 2019 5:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

ExxonMobil announced Monday that its chartered drillship Noble Tom Madden recently struck a high-quality oil resevoir near Exxon's Longtail well, extending the company's run of successful discoveries in the Stabroek Block region off the coast of Guyana. 

The exploration of the 10,000-square-mile Stabroek Block lease area is an important priority for Exxon. So far, it has found an estimated six billion boe of recoverable resources. It has four drillships working or about to start in the region, and it is on track to bring its first field online for production early next year. Beginning in 2020, its Liza Phase 1 project will produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day using the new FPSO Liza Destiny, which arrived in Guyana late last month. 

Two more finds are set to begin commercial operation soon. ExxonMobil approved capex funding for Liza Phase 2 after receiving government and regulatory approvals in May 2019. The project plans to use a second FPSO, the Liza Unity, to produce up to 220,000 barrels of oil per day. Pending government approvals, a third development at the Payara field could be online as early as 2023, and its production would reach an estimated 220,000 barrels of oil per day.

Exxon is the operator for the Stabroek project and holds a 45 percent stake through subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana. Hess holds 30 percent and CNOOC holds the remaining 25 percent. 

The development of the Stabroek Block is a source of regional tension. Venezuela contests the ownership of a portion of the lease area, and Venezuelan naval assets have previously interfered with Exxon survey activity in the disputed zone. In December, Venezuelan military vessels approached the Exxon-chartered survey vessel Ramform Tethys, prompting diplomatic protests from the government of Guyana and the U.S. State Department.