Fresh on the heels of first oil, ExxonMobil announced on Monday that it had made its 15th oil find off the coast of Guyana and the fifth for this year, this time striking oil in its Mako-1 well southeast of the Liza Field.
In a statement, Exxon explained that the discovery added to the more than six billion oil equivalent barrels estimated for the Block. According to Exxon, the drill ship encountered 164 feet of high-quality oil-bearing reservoirs.
The Mako-1 well was drilled in 5315 feet of water and is just 10 kilometres southeast of the Liza Field. This is Exxon’s fifth oil find for the year, with the last oil find being the Tripletail discovery in September.
In his comments accompanying the statement, Exxon’s Senior Vice President in charge of exploration and new ventures, Mike Cousins, gave credit to its full-wave seismic technology for the rapid development of the Block.
“New discoveries in this world-class basin have the potential to support additional developments. Our proprietary full-wave seismic inversion technology continues to help us better define our discovered resource and move rapidly to the development phase,” Cousins said.
In a Ministry of the Presidency statement, Energy Department head, Dr Mark Bynoe called this a historic moment. He also noted that his department would continue to strengthen its capacity and put in place a legislative framework.
“This discovery by ExxonMobil and its partners comes on the heels of the start of oil production. The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is experiencing a truly historic moment that has all the ingredients to facilitate a paradigm shift towards sustained economic transformation,” Dr Bynoe was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Exxon continues its drilling activities with four drill ships to further explore and appraise new resources. The company also noted that pending Government approvals and project sanctioning of a third development, production from the Payara field north of the Liza discoveries could start as early as 2023, with oil production reaching an estimated 220,000 barrels per day.
It was only a few months ago that Guyana was ranked second in the world, after only Russia, for most oil finds this year. This was revealed in a report by Norwegian research company Rystad Energy, which compiled all the discoveries of oil around the world and came up with a list of the top 10 countries.
At the time, Russia was followed closely by Guyana, where oil was found in the Liza 1 field in the Stabroek Block by the US-based ExxonMobil and in the Orinduik Block by British oil firm Tullow.
A distant third was Cyprus. They were followed by South Africa, Malaysia, Norway, Angola and Indonesia. The United Kingdom (UK) and the US were in the cellar on the top 10 oil finds list.
Commenting on the steep rise in oil drilling in the Caribbean, the report had noted that in 2013, only seven offshore wells were drilled in the Region. Now, the report noted, 23 new exploration wells are expected for 2019.
“Rystad Energy expects the Guyana-Suriname basin will continue to occupy headlines with a few planned wells in both Guyana and Suriname. The basin is pinned as one of the most prospective, underexplored basins in the world and will definitely get a facelift from its current assigned volumes if hydrocarbons are established towards the east,” a statement from the company had said.
So far, Esso Exploration & Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) – Exxon’s local subsidiary – has now made 15 oil finds in the Stabroek Block over 100 miles offshore Guyana.
Last year, the company made five discoveries. These discoveries have pushed the total estimated recoverable barrels of oil equivalent to over six billion. In addition, Exxon is moving ahead with its Liza phase two project, which will contain approximately 30 wells.
The Liza Destiny, Guyana’s first Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, arrived in local waters at the end of August. The vessel will play a key role in oil production.
It was only on Friday that first oil officially started flowing in the Liza field, which has the capacity to produce 120,000 barrels of oil per day. While the news has been greeted with optimism in some quarters, others have not shared this sunny outlook. There has been criticism that critical policies such as a local content policy is not in place.