The success rate for finding commercial quantities of hydrocarbons offshore Guyana remains one of the highest in the oil and gas industry. Supported by state-of-the-art technology and highly trained geoscientists, U.S oil major ExxonMobil has had a remarkably good run so far offshore the South American country. But this has not come without disappointments.
The journey began in 2015 when after decades of unsuccessful attempts to find hydrocarbons and over 40 wells drilled, ExxonMobil hit pay at Liza-1 in the Stabroek block, and subsequently confirmed the presence of an estimated 800 million to 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources.
However, the very next well to be drilled on the block the following year – Skipjack – failed to find commercial quantities of oil.
Undeterred by this disappointment, the company forged ahead with its exploration progarmme and went on to make 18 commercial discoveries, all at the Stabroek block. In addition to Skipjack, three other wells – Sorubim, Tanager and Hassa were unsuccessful. Tanager-1, located at the Kaieteur block, was the first exploration well to be drilled outside of Stabroek. This means the company has found commercial crude at a total of 18 out of 22 wells drilled.
“Exploration in deepwater and ultra-deepwater is a high-risk high-cost venture,” Kevin Ramnarine, former Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Energy told OilNOW following the announcement of the Tanager results. “A sub commercial well like Tanager-1 is par for the course in exploration. That is the nature of the oil business.”
ExxonMobil also underscored the high-risk nature of exploration after coming up dry at Hassa-1. “This serves as a reminder that geologic risk is inherent to frontier oil and gas exploration activities,” Janelle Persaud, ExxonMobil Guyana Public and Government Affairs Advisor told OilNOW on Friday.
“Nonetheless, ExxonMobil remains committed to evaluating the potential in our offshore Guyana blocks using our world-class technology and technical capabilities,” she said.
This includes proprietary seismic data and technology the company has developed over the years.
“The foundation for these discoveries is up-front investment in proprietary seismic data and proprietary technology that ExxonMobil has developed, such as full wavefield inversion imaging and algorithms that run on supercomputers to give us the best chance of finding oil and gas deposits,” Alistair Routledge, President of ExxonMobil Guyana said September last.
Analysts say the discovered and potential resource in stacked petroleum systems offshore Guyana continue to grow and this will see the total estimated recoverable resource further increasing from the estimated 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent, in coming years.