OilNOW’s top stories of 2023

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Here are the stories that you, the readers, were most interested in, last year:

January: Exxon strikes more oil at Fangtooth well offshore Guyana

The first discovery made offshore Guyana in 2023 was at Fangtooth Southeast, an appraisal well that indicated the presence of 200 feet of oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. Following the Fangtooth-1 discovery in 2022, the extensive appraisal work done by Exxon underscores the likelihood that the Fangtooth field may form the basis of the seventh Stabroek block development to be pursued by ExxonMobil. 

February: Exxon’s 5th Guyana FPSO to be named ‘Errea Wittu’

The Errea Wittu floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel was named after a word from the language of Guyana’s Indigenous Warrau people that means ‘abundance’. The FPSO’s oil production design rate is 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) and is expected to achieve first oil as part of the Uaru project in 2026. Uaru will be the project that hikes Guyana’s oil production over the 1 million bpd mark.

March: Shell looking to re-enter South America’s hottest new basin

Shell’s expressed interest in Guyana’s first offshore licensing round was notable, as the company had lost out on a big opportunity by selling its stake in the Stabroek block before ExxonMobil started making massive discoveries in 2015. Shell ultimately opted not to bid for blocks offshore Guyana, but majors ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies have upped their holdings in the basin. 

April: Exxon strikes oil at Lancetfish-1 well

The Lancetfish-1 discovery was announced in April – 92 feet of oil-bearing sandstone reservoir. It was so promising that Exxon moved to appraise it later that year, with Hess announcing an additional discovery at Lancetfish-2 in October – 125 feet of net oil pay in appraisal reservoirs and 65 feet of net oil pay in a new discovery interval.

May: Construction on Guyana’s new Demerara River crossing begins

The new bridge across Guyana’s Demerara River will be a four-lane, high-span, cable-stayed structure. Its use is expected to allow for a smoother flow of road and maritime traffic. The current bridge is low with two lanes and has scheduled openings to allow marine vessels to pass. The new US$260 million bridge is expected to be completed this year and will be instrumental in supporting onshore oil and gas operations, given the establishment of facilities to support the sector on the West Bank and West Coast of the Demerara River. 

June: US$9.6M plaza to be built at Vreed-en-Hoop near to major port facility

The SPECTRUM plaza is expected to be a welcome development for ex-pats working to support the Port of Vreed-en-Hoop, which includes a shore base facility to support the oil sector and other aspects purposed to help improve the cost and efficiency of shipping in the Demerara River. The US$9.6 million SPECTRUM plaza complex is expected to be completed by 2026. 

July: Guyana now classified as high-income country by World Bank as oil projects quintuple

Guyana’s achievement of high-income status in the World Bank’s book was based on the financial institution’s assessment of the gross national income (GNI) per capita of the country, using the Atlas method. Ranking in 67th place out of 196 economies, Guyana is expected to continue to move up in the rankings as the years go by, peering with some of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that wealth translates to world-class governance and an improved quality of life for the Guyanese people. 

August: Founder of Guyana’s first 100% locally-owned manpower services company steps down

Kerri Gravesande-Bart, and her husband Lloyd Bart, co-founded the manpower company, Strategic Recruitment Solutions Inc. (SRSGY), five years ago. Gravesande-Bart has navigated the company toward securing ISO 9001-2015 Quality Management Systems Certification, Trace Certification, and significant manpower contracts within the oil and gas sector. However, she decided to divest her shares, stepping down from the company in August.

September: Two Guyanese nationals off to Massachusetts on Noble scholarships

Two young women, Dianna Persaud and Kavita Singh, are pursuing studies at Massachusettes Maritime Academy, a public university located in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Noble Corporation granted them fully paid, comprehensive four-year scholarships to read for bachelor’s degrees in Maritime Transportation. Persaud and Singh will also have opportunities to intern with Noble in the summer. 

October: Guyana-Venezuela land boundary was settled 124 years ago

This article, in addition to being October’s top story, is OilNOW’s story of the year, having been read more than any other piece on this list. It presents a comprehensive historical context for the Guyana- Venezuela border controversy, at a time when Venezuela has re-energized its rattling for the Essequibo region. The two countries have since committed to maintaining peace as they navigate the controversy. Despite Venezuela not accepting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle the controversy, the United Nations Court has ruled that it has the jurisdiction. Venezuela maintains its non-acceptance, but continues to participate in the proceedings, and is expected to submit its counter-memorial in the case by April 2024. 

November: Petronas, Exxon hit oil jackpot with second discovery at Block 52 offshore Suriname

Petronas announced a major oil discovery at the Roystonea-1 exploration well in block 52 offshore Suriname. The discovery was significant enough that Petronas said it is poised to play a crucial role in its international upstream ventures. It had also said further evaluation is being undertaken to determine the full extent of the discovery and its potential development synergy with the Sloanea-1 discovery made in 2020 in the same block. With a 50% stake in block 52, this may be ExxonMobil’s first development opportunity on the other side of the Guyana-Suriname basin. 

December: Suriname awards deepwater blocks to TotalEnergies, Shell, Petronas, QatarEnergy

Suriname’s offshore oil and gas sector has benefited from multiple major developments in 2024, including the award of three production sharing contracts (PSC) for the offshore deepwater blocks 63, 64, and 65. The blocks were part of the Demerara bid round held from November 2022 to May 2023. Petronas has a 100% operating interest in Block 63. Block 64 was signed away to a consortium in which TotalEnergies will operate the block with a 40% participating interest while the remaining interest is split equally between QatarEnergy and Petronas. Block 65 was signed to BG International, a subsidiary of Shell, which will own 60% interest in the block as the operator, while QatarEnergy will own a 40% stake.

Writers’ picks

Shikema Dey: TotalEnergies comes out swinging with US$9 billion investment proposal for first Suriname development

This announcement for Suriname has been a long time coming. TotalEnergies and APA Corporation are pursuing a US$9 billion development offshore Suriname in the same Golden Lane that gave ExxonMobil the Stabroek block prize. TotalEnergies is aiming for a 2028 production start-up, with 700 million barrels to be tapped at 200,000 barrels per day. The development has great potential to revitalize Suriname’s ailing economy. 

Kemol King: Guyana oil production hits 500,000 bpd as Payara ramp-up outpaces previous projects   | OilNOW

Guyana’s production ramp-up hit a major milestone of 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) on its way to 1.2 million bpd. Exxon said it intended to ramp-up to nameplate capacity of 220,000 bpd in five months. However, the project hit 100,000 bpd just 16 days after start-up, and it looks like it may achieve nameplate earlier than planned. Payara joins Liza 1 and 2, taking Guyana’s oil production capacity to 620,000 bpd.

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