Two weeks after the company had told Guyana’s government that it was switching focus from exploratory to development wells, ExxonMobil on Wednesday announced yet another major oil find offshore Guyana as it races to make this Caribbean Community nation the latest oil producer in the regional grouping in early 2020.
From its Houston, Texas headquarters, the company said it had made its eight large oil discovery at a well it had named as Longtail-1, setting the stage for massive oil production from the southeastern section of now proven Stabroek Block. The block is located more than 100 miles north of the Guyana coast.
The announcement comes just days after Dr. Jan Mangal, the former Chevron professional the governing coalition had hired in the past year as an expert to advise it on oil and gas, this week hurled stinging criticism at his bosses for not properly readying the country to prepare for an oil and gas economy.
Presidential adviser Mangal said authorities must move quickly to hire honest and competent professionals to help a country which is clueless about oil and gas and has been slow to build institutional capacity.
He warned that the poor will become poorer if the sector is not properly managed as cost of living is already rising, contending that this should not be the case as there are dozens of lessons about the so-called oil curse around the world for Guyana to learn from.
“We need technical people in the ministry of natural resources, in the revenue authority, ministry of finance and they are not appearing. It’s been over two years now. Go look at the natural resources and see how many foreign technical experts are in there. It is zero. I am one person. Guyana can’t rely on one person. Guyana needs to go and pull in a bunch of experts into government. My intention when I started was to build a team up, but unfortunately resources were not available,” Mangal, contended.
Exxon and partners Hess Oil and Nexen of China first announced a commercial oil and gas find back in May of 2015, holding back their announcement until after the local elections commission had declared the results or the general elections to avoid possible allegations that it was moving to influence the result.
Since then, only two of the 10 wells drilled so far have proven to be dry ones, a development Operations Manager Doug McGehee says is unprecedented for the company anywhere else in the world.
“We are going to be drilling non stop for a long time to come. Guyana is a marvel. In other places, may you get a successful well in one out of ten tries, maybe five, but what we have seen in Guyana we have not seen anywhere else,’ he told this publication during a media tour of the company’s Noble Bob Douglas drilling ship in late April.
The company said it is planning to bring yet another drilling ship — a third — to work alongside the Bob Douglas and the Stenna Carron as it steps up activities to drill 17 wells in phase one of its development plans leading to “first oil” in 2020. Phase two which could kick off around 2022, would see close to 40 wells being drilled based on current estimates. Such is the extent of the massive “world class” oil find off the Guyana coast. The latest discovery comes as nearly every oil major of repute is vying for concessions near Exxon’s block or to buy into others which already have concessions.
Two massive floating production, storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs) are under construction in Asia. Ships carrying away fuel to markets will be fed from these two storage vessels.
When Guyana starts production, it will join Trinidad, Suriname and Barbados as producers in the 15 nation Caribbean grouping. Suriname and Barbados produce from wells onshore.