Exxon sent out 35 letters seeking new partners after Shell walked away from Stabroek Block

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Before China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Hess Corp. partnered with ExxonMobil to become the Stabroek Block co-venturers we know today, there was Shell.

The British multinational held a 50% stake with Exxon, but the company opted to leave a mere year before the world class Liza discovery, the very first commercial reservoir to be found offshore the South American country.

Shell had believed that the chances of success in the Stabroek Block were essentially slim to none. But Exxon thought otherwise. So, when the company departed, it quickly sought out new partners.

As told by ExxonMobil Guyana’s President, Alistair Routledge, the company had sent out at least 35 letters to leading industry partners.

“Since 1999, the original partnership, we would have worked together to develop, to be ready to drill opportunities in the Stabroek Block as part of that multi-decade exploration pursuit for oil and gas in the country of Guyana. Sadly, we lost our partner and so, we went looking for a new partner or partners,” he shared.

According to Routledge, just two companies expressed interest – Hess and CNOOC. And the three companies later led the success story of Guyana’s Stabroek Block.

Exxon’s risk and Shell’s multi-billion-dollar missed opportunity in Guyana’s Stabroek Block | OilNOW

“It was a great decision. I think you two are happy with the decision [and] we are too. From a partnership point of view, it has brought richness to our partnership. I think what makes a very strong partnership is diversity, and inclusion, which requires some common value,” he continued.

To date, a total of 33 discoveries have been made there. The Block’s resource count stands at approximately 11 billion oil-equivalent barrels. Two massive floating oil production vessels are in operation – the Liza Destiny and the Liza Unity. And by 2025, two others – Prosperity and ONE GUYANA – will come online.

Exxon holds operatorship of the Stabroek Block with a 45% stake, while Hess holds 30% and CNOOC holds 25%.


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