Currently positioned approximately 88 nautical miles off the Guyana coast in the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Noble Bob Douglas hovers above the 13th well being drilled by ExxonMobil in the Stabroek Block. The US oil major has found crude at 11 out of 12 wells drilled to date which marks 7 discoveries. If this trend continues, Sorubim-1 could change the tally to 12 out of 13.
The historic nature of the Noble Bob Douglas’ mission is that it will soon move on to the prolific Liza field to begin drilling the 17 wells for the Liza Phase 1 development that will bring first oil for the South American country. Twenty-three of the 160 personnel onboard are Guyanese, and will have an opportunity to be directly involved in the campaign that will forever transform their nation.
ExxonMobil Guyana facilitated a tour of 6 journalists to the vessel on April 21 as part of efforts to raise awareness and improve understanding of the industry, which is new to the country. The company’s Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs, Kimberly Brasington and Operations Manager, Doug Mc Gehee accompanied the media team on the tour.
The uneventful 60-minute journey to the rig from the Ogle International Airport, skillfully executed by the two-man crew of a Bristow helicopter, does little to prepare the uninitiated for the magnitude of the 752 foot vessel that remains in place – close to pin-point precision – by dynamic positioning and the work of its well-trained operators.
The crew’s emphasis on safety makes the 50,940 ton drillship with its imposing tower, massive cranes and colossal Blowout Preventer (BOP) seems like a relatively safe place to be. The vessel is equipped with two BOPs; one to secure the well and another on standby.
Crew members have access to a range of recreational facilities including a well-equipped gym and entertainment area, inclusive of satellite television, which is also available in sleeping quarters. Wifi access allows those onboard to remain in contact with family onshore and phone calls can also be made.
Almost all the Guyanese personnel onboard found themselves in the new and exciting environment of marine drilling by responding to vacancy notices in the local press, or through a referral from a friend. They come from locations across the country such as Linden, Berbice and the capital city of Georgetown. Of the 23 Guyanese crew members; 14 hold catering positions, 4 roustabouts, 2 clerks, 2 logistics and 1 doctor. As training and capacity building continue, more Guyanese are expected to be employed in technical positions. Already, the vessel’s captain, Elmo Cerise and Rig Manager, Joseph Brewer says the performance of the 23 Guyanese onboard is outstanding.
ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) awarded contracts for drilling services to Noble Corporation in August 2017. The Bob Douglas has been contracted for a three-year period and will start drilling the Liza Phase 1 development wells after completing its search for oil at Sorubim.