Why is Exxon finding oil faster in Guyana than companies anywhere else in the world?

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Several high impact discoveries which have been made offshore Guyana by US oil major ExxonMobil are a direct result of the company’s research and development of new technologies which have provided geoscientists with unparalleled insights into subsurface geologic structures and the physical characteristics of rocks.

Speaking at the company’s 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Wednesday, CEO Darren Woods said the use of these technologies has helped push the drilling success rate at Stabroek Block well above the industry average.

“A recent example is our proprietary full wave seismic inversion technology which helps identify hydrocarbon reservoirs. Last year, this enabled us to have four of the top ten exploration discoveries in the world and five out of the six largest oil discoveries,” he said, referring to the Tilapia, Haimara, Yellowtail, Tripletail and Mako oil strikes.

Woods said the technology increased the company’s drilling success rate at Stabroek Block “to 89 percent, well above the industry average,” adding that, “The estimated recoverable resource offshore Guyana has now increased to more than 8 billion barrels, about two and a half times what we estimated just two years ago.”

The company’s ability to make rapid discoveries in Guyana and move to development in a relatively short time-frame has resulted in oil production starting at the Liza Field last December, less than five years after the first world-class discovery. This has seen Guyana so far receiving close to US$60 million from oil sales and royalty.

Nearly 50 years ago, ExxonMobil pioneered a technology called 3-D seismic imaging, which uses sound waves to form three-dimensional images of geologic formations. These images have become the industry standard for understanding subsurface geology and finding oil and gas deposits. Full Wavefield Inversion (FWI) is an integral part of the company’s exploration and development efforts and a signature part of its suite of seismic capabilities known as EMprise.

In the past, the industry could only utilize a portion of the data recorded in 3-D seismic surveys due to the high complexity of the seismic waves and the sheer quantity of data. Now, FWI has provided ExxonMobil with the ability to better leverage all of the data from a seismic survey to produce high-definition images of the subsurface.

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