Exxon preparing to drill again off Guyana’s coast

3 February 2016

Volume 39, Number 5

Exxon is preparing to again drill off the coast of Guyana in its continuing search for oil in waters disputed with Venezuela.

According to Exxon and Guyanese reporting, the drilling vessel ‘Stena Carron’ has now arrived in Guyana and is expected to begin drilling a number of wells within the Stabroek Block in early March.

ExxonMobil began oil and gas exploration in Guyana in March 2015 in the Stabroek Block about 120 nautical miles offshore. In May last year, the company reported a ‘significant oil discovery’ at its Liza-1 well.

According to specialist oil industry publications in the US and UK, ExxonMobil is likely to ‘aggressively’ drill between four to six wells split between an appraisal of the Liza well and other prospects. These include a number of lookalike geological structures.

A story in the oil publication Upstream has additionally suggested that ExxonMobil hopes to begin oil production in 2018 and is working to a tight schedule.

ExxonMobil executives met recently with Guyana’s President David Granger to update him on their exploratory work.

At the meeting, President Granger gave the President of ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Stephen Greenlee, his government’s full support. “Exxon continues to be optimistic and positive. It is too soon to make predictions. They are still in exploratory stages, but what I can say is, so far, the results have been very favourable,” the President was quoted by the Ministry of the Presidency as saying.

The same statement also noted that ExxonMobil’s exploration company had said that with the expansion of the company’s operations in Guyana, it would be necessary to have a growing presence in Guyana.

Stabroek News quoted Exxon Exploration’s President as saying: “I wanted to talk to the President about our progress on the [Stabroek] Block… our commitment to the project… our future activities both on the discovery that we made and future exploration… [and] on our community programs and socio-economic development opportunities.”

Mr Greenlee said that the discovery was very promising and the company now needed to understand the size and the commerciality of the discovery. “We want to acquire new data so that we can fully assess the

potential of the Block offshore Guyana for the value that it will bring to Guyana and ExxonMobil in the future,” Mr Greenlee said.

So far there has been no reaction from Venezuela to the rig’s presence in Guyanese waters which it claims as being within its exclusive economic zone as a part of its wider claim to much of Guyana, and in particular the Essequibo region. It has also so far not commented on Exxon’s decision to proceed with further exploration. President Maduro’s government has previously said that it regards the company as a surrogate for US government interests.


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