GIPEX 2019: Long-term view of ExxonMobil, successive governments in Guyana responsible for success at multi-billion-barrel Stabroek Block

Hunter Farris, ExxonMobil’s Senior Vice President, delivers remarks at the opening of the Guyana International Petroleum Exhibition and Summit (GIPEX) at the Guyana Marriott Hotel on November 20, 2019.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the 2019 Guyana International Petroleum Exhibition and Summit (GIPEX), ExxonMobil’s Senior Vice President, Hunter Farris told conference attendees of previous unsuccessful drill campaigns in Guyana, challenging depth of the water and the border controversies to the east and west.

Farris made the point that Exxon, having persevered, is in Guyana for the long haul.

“As we approach first oil, I am sure many people are excited about the new chapter that is being written in Guyana, the opportunity, the potential ahead of us. But I also realize there are those who are unsure, or even skeptical about the oil industry or what it brings to Guyana. We are here to partner with Guyana and its people. It’s a relationship for the long term.”

The official said ExxonMobil is committed to developing the South American country’s oil resources in a responsible manner that benefits both the country and the co-venturers.

“What I’d like to talk to you about today ….is that we are here to partner with Guyana and its people … develop its oil and gas resources in a responsible and mutually beneficial way… it’s a relationship for the long term and for decades to come,” he said.

Farris surmised that success in Guyana was not inevitable but rather, it was the result of decisions by leaders who thought long-term. “They did not give up… They were clear-eyed about the challenges and risks that exist in frontier, unproven basins, such as those in the waters of Guyana, and what it takes to find oil and gas,” he said.

He explained that despite historically low oil prices during that time – around $11 a barrel – the Guyana government and ExxonMobil signed a production sharing agreement in 1999 to explore the Stabroek Block.

The low prices at the time were compounded by a series of unsuccessful exploration efforts in 1998—and the frustrating history of dry holes.

The company, he said, took 16 years before it drilled its first well. That period, from 1999 to 2015, was characterized by a number, of challenges including the border controversies to the west and east and the depth of the prospects to be drilled.

“Now, looking back on the period from 1999 to 2015, I can define that as the foundation for our present success. We put our technical minds and capabilities to work – the geoscientists and engineers – to study and learn about the geology of the Stabroek Block through multiple seismic campaigns, technical analysis and studies,” Farris said.

Projects of this length and this scale, he said, require long-term alignment between the government and the operator to become a reality. “It was smart, long-term decision-making by the governments of Guyana and the ExxonMobil leaders who preceded me, including confidence and perseverance that enabled the exciting developments over the first five years of our relationship,” he said.

Production at the Stabroek Block for which ExxonMobil is operator with a 45 percent stake, could begin as early as December, ahead of the initial Q1 2020 timeline.

The other partners in the Stabroek Block are HESS with 30 percent and CNOOC with 25 percent interest.