Bulk of current drillship demand in ‘golden triangle’ where Guyana offshore remains busy

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The bulk of current drillship demand is in the so-called golden triangle area which comprises the Gulf of Mexico (US and Mexico), South America (Brazil, Guyana & Suriname), and Africa (west, south, and east coasts). These regions account for 44 of the 55 requirements scheduled to begin this year and 118 of the 152 total. This is according to data from RigLogix, Westwood said in a new report.

Westwood expects drillship demand in 2021 to increase on average by as many as 10 units to around 65, based on open requirements. This projection is supported by both Westwood Global Energy’s Wildcat database which shows that the number of high impact exploration and appraisal (E&A) wells drilled offshore could be 17-22% higher than the 2020 total and its SubseaLogix database which expects 250 subsea tree installations in 2021 – a 19% increase year-on-year.

Guyana, nestled in the golden triangle between oil producers Brazil, Venezuela, and Suriname, is already seeing drilling activity ramp up this year with ExxonMobil looking to drill 12 to 14 wells, and other operators such as CGX Energy, planning their own drill programmes. The Canadian oil and gas company plans to drill the Kawa-1 exploration well, located on the Corentyne block, and the Makarapan-1 prospect on the Demerara block offshore Guyana.

During a virtual interview with OilNOW in December, President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge, said the offshore activities are about to get busy.

“We’re adding two more drilling rigs to our activities and that is to give us more capacity to drill additional wells,” Routledge said. The company has since added the Stena DrillMAX and Noble Sam Croft to its fleet, bringing the total number of drill ships it has in Guyana to six.

“There are multiple oil companies that may also look to start exploration in the coming years, which will add even more rig demand,” says Hans Jacob Bassoe, of Bassoe Offshore.

Tullow Oil has reported that work continues on developing the prospect inventory on the Orinduik and Kanuku (operated by Repsol) licences offshore Guyana. Meanwhile, after several years of delays, CGX Energy is looking to drill wells in the Corentyne and Demerara blocks – two oil concessions offshore Guyana.

“In addition, it is understood that Shell is planning to drill an exploration well in Block 42, off Suriname, which it recently acquired from Kosmos Energy after the latter company failed to discover hydrocarbons with its Pontoenoe-1 well in 2018,” Bassoe pointed out. “Additionally, Petronas may be planning a follow-up campaign off Suriname after it completes evaluation of its 2020 Sloanea discovery.”

Analysts say the Guyana-Suriname basin is still in its early stages of oil exploration and they expect companies to ramp up exploration and development operations going forward.

Already, ExxonMobil is looking to ramp up oil production in Guyana with 6 FPSOs by 2026 and an additional 4 by the turn of the decade. This will see Guyana becoming just the 11th nation in history to reach the one million barrel a day milestone.


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