ExxonMobil resumes drilling in Guyana waters after Venezuelan naval interdiction

GEORGETOWN - Some two weeks after having its oil exploration vessels interdicted by the Venezuelan navy in Guyanese maritime territory, ExxonMobil in a statement on Monday stated that they have resumed oil exploration in Guyanese waters.

In the statement: “ExxonMobil said today that it has begun drilling the Haimara-1 exploration well offshore Guyana, the first of two planned wells in January. The Stena Carron drillship is drilling the well, which is located 19 miles (31 kilometers) east of the Pluma-1 discovery in the southeast Stabroek Block.

“The Noble Tom Madden drillship is expected to drill the second well, Tilapia-1, about three miles (five kilometers) west of the Longtail-1 discovery. The Tilapia-1 well is located in the growing Turbot area.”

Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company, went on to state: “We continue to prioritize high-potential prospects in close proximity to previous discoveries in order to establish opportunities for material and efficient development. Like the Liza and Payara areas, the Turbot area is on its way to offering significant development options that will maximize value for Guyana and our partners.”

ExxonMobil is progressing the Liza Phase 1 development, which has moved into its peak execution phase ahead of expected startup in early 2020. Preparations are underway for the commencement of pipe-laying activities in the Liza field in the spring. The Liza Destiny storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel is expected to sail from Singapore to arrive offshore Guyana in the third quarter of 2019.

The Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) Group, whose ships were intercepted by the Venezuelan navy last year, also expects to be recommissioned to the Turbot area.

While drilling in-shore in the Essequibo River area has been affected by the Venezuelan military incursion, offshore activity off the coast of Guyana has not been affected and is expected to resume under the licence of the Guyana government.

The potential exists for at least five FPSOs on the Stabroek Block producing more than 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025. Liza Phase 2 is expected to start up by mid-2022. Pending government and regulatory approvals, project sanction is expected first quarter 2019 and will use a second FPSO designed to produce up to 220,000 barrels per day. Sanctioning of a third development, Payara, is also expected in 2019 with start up as early as 2023.


Security arrangements are unclear at the moment for Exxon and Guyana following the recent Venezuelan aggression.

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