A now two-month long delay in the completion of a presidential election in the South American country of Guyana is slowing down the project approvals for ExxonMobil’s third development at the 6.6 million acres Stabroek Block where the company is operator.
The Payara Development, which is targeting 180,000 to 220,000 barrels of oil per day, was expected to be approved by the end of Q1 2020. Payara will follow the Liza Phase 1 Development which began producing oil last December and the already sanctioned Liza Phase 2 Development targeted for a 2022 start-up.
“Unfortunately, the ongoing elections process and uncertainty around the next administration has slowed Government approvals of the Payara Development Plan,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation, Darren Woods told investors Friday on the company’s Q1 earnings call.
Concerns about the credibility of the declaration of results for the largest district in Guyana have caused a delay in the announcement of a winner and installation of a government. International and local observers as well as parties contesting the elections have said the electoral body did not use a credible process to verify the votes in Region 4, even after the country’s Chief Justice ordered that the process be redone. The declaration of results for this region had placed the incumbent coalition party ahead and in position to be declared the winner but the observers maintained that the declaration lacked credibility.
Guyana’s Department of Energy (DE) Director, Dr. Mark Bynoe told OilNOW last month that recent ‘national and international events’ have created conditions that are resulting in a delay in the approval of the project.
“In view of recent national and international events, the recommendation to His Excellency President David A. Granger, Minister with responsibility for the Petroleum Sector on the Payara Development, remains under evaluation,” he said in an email response on April 8.
The Government of Guyana, Dr. Bynoe stated, continues to engage ExxonMobil on the process that is being pursued.
A team of officials from regional body CARICOM arrived in Guyana on Friday in a second attempt to oversee a recount of all votes cast in the election. The first attempt to undertake such an exercise was blocked when a candidate of the coalition party moved to the court to stop the recount. Since that time, the court has cleared the way for the electoral body to use its constitutional authority to conclude the elections process.
If all goes well, the recount is expected to be completed in approximately 25 days after which a winner could be declared.