As Guyana, Suriname gas reserves mount, standalone development is on the horizon

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Guyana and Suriname have had substantial natural gas reserves discovered in the basin, altogether estimated at a whopping 29.5 trillion cubic feet. According to ExxonMobil, the operator of the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana, of the 11 billion oil-equivalent barrels it has discovered, 17 trillion cubic feet is gas. For Suriname, Wood Mackenzie estimates that the discovered oil resource count is more than 2.4 billion barrels and its natural gas resources are 12.5 trillion cubic feet. Suriname’s discovered natural gas endowment accounts for 48% of its discovered resources, a higher proportion than the 28% of natural gas offshore Guyana.  

The question is: who will have the first stand-alone gas development in the basin, Guyana or Suriname? So far, only oil developments have been announced. ExxonMobil has sanctioned six oil projects in the Stabroek Block, with three producing approximately 625,000 barrels per day (b/d) in April. The additional three projects to come on stream by 2027 will add approximately 750,000 b/d, taking production to more than 1.3 million b/d, with opportunities for potential upside once ExxonMobil pursues optimization strategies. Over in Suriname, TotalEnergies announced that it would pursue its first oil development in Block 58. The company identified two substantial fields at which it will tap 700 million barrels of oil. That project is targeting first oil in 2028, with a rate of production of about 200,000 b/d.

In Suriname, substantial gas volumes have been discovered in Block 58 and Block 52. Earlier this year, Suriname signed a letter of agreement with the Block 52 partners, ExxonMobil and Petronas, encouraging gas development. Rystad Energy, a Norwegian analyst firm, has said that a 10-year tax break, provided to the Block 52 partners would be pivotal in evaluating gas production feasibility and potentially facilitating Suriname’s earliest natural gas production by 2031. The letter of agreement delineates the framework for gas development within Block 52 and paves the way for negotiations. Petronas has considered a floating liquefied natural gas project (LNG) for Suriname. According to Luiz Hayum, Principal Upstream Research Analyst at Latin America Upstream for Wood Mackenzie, gas resources at Block 52 could anchor a floating LNG development for gas volumes of about 2 trillion cubic feet. 

Over in Guyana, ExxonMobil is embarking on an associated gas development project called Gas-to-Energy, to utilize natural gas from the Liza field, which currently produces oil. Gas-to-Energy is a collaboration with the Guyana government to use gas primarily for domestic power generation. The government also wants to commercialize the natural gas liquids for export to several countries in the region, including the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Dominican Republic, and northern Brazil. But as for a stand-alone gas development, President of ExxonMobil, Guyana, Alistair Routledge, has said that gas production at the Stabroek Block may be possible in 2029 or 2030. The most likely target of such development aspirations would be the Haimara field, discovered in 2019. ExxonMobil drilled the Haimara-2 appraisal well in 2023 but did not announce a discovery of additional reserves there. However, the company’s plans to drill additional appraisal wells at the Haimara field in the future indicates potential for gas development there.

There is also potential for joint gas development between Guyana and Suriname. When Guyana overhauled its petroleum laws, it included a unitization clause, which among other things would allow for potential cooperation between the two countries for gas development. Since much of the gas discovered offshore Guyana is on the eastern side of the Stabroek Block, near the border with Suriname’s gas-rich Blocks 58 and 52, there have been talks.

Exxon also sees scale advantage in cross-border collaboration, but no decision has been announced in that regard.

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