The announcement on Tuesday by ExxonMobil of a new oil discovery at the Payara-2 well has reinforced a widely held belief that significantly more oil than what has so far been detected may lie beneath the Atlantic Ocean offshore the South American country.
The US super-major said the Payara reservoir was successfully drilled by its affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited and encountered 59 feet (18 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone, increasing the total Payara discovery to approximately 500 million oil-equivalent barrels. This increases the estimated gross recoverable resource for the Stabroek Block to between 2.25 and 2.75 billion oil-equivalent barrels.
Speaking to OilNOW just after the discovery was announced, ExxonMobil’s Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs in Guyana, Kimberly Brasington, said, “We are so excited, it is history.” She said the information gathered from drilling operations at Payara-2, “…is worth whole lot the size of the Payara field.”
To put the magnitude of the find into perspective, the already approved Liza development is expected to produce about 500 million barrels of oil in Phase-1 of the project. The Liza field is estimated to contain about 1 billion barrels and a Phase 2 production project is potentially on the cards. With discoveries at Payara estimated to be around 500 million barrels, this could well justify its own stand-alone development.
Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, told Oilnow on Tuesday that government was briefed previously about the assessment of the second Payara well and the administration is very pleased with the report. “These discoveries remind us that we have a sacred duty to develop the resource in the best interest of present and future generations and that every effort must be made to ensure that we make informed decisions at each stage of development,” he said.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Natural Resources said it joins Guyana’s President , David Granger, and the Guyanese people, in congratulating ExxonMobil and its joint-venture partners Hess and CNOOC Nexen for their latest efforts that led to the confirmation of the volume of the petroleum reserves that were announced.
“The announcement marks another important milepost in the journey towards Guyana’s emergence as an oil producing state, and reinforces the reality that Guyana must continue to steadily and carefully build capacity in a race against time before that date,” the Ministry said. Oil production is scheduled to begin in mid-2020.
The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.