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Guyana’s government Wednesday said that American supermajor ExxonMobil has found substantial oil and gas deposits in two more massive offshore wells, taking its tally to 12 with only two failures so far, a rate of discovery that is well above global averages a top official said.

Mark Bynoe, director of Energy at the Ministry of the Presidency, announced the two oil finds at the Talipia-1 and Haimara-1 wells in the southwestern portion of the Stabroek offshore bloc near Suriname.

But even as authorities begin to digest the continuing success of the Guyana oil field, authorities in neighboring Trinidad are beginning to wake up to the possibility of the oil and gas-blessed nation extending the outer limits of the country’s continental shelf to explore possible rich oil and gas fields in acerages near Guyana. Guyana’s so far proven fields are located about halfway between the two countries.

Trinidad’s Minister of Energy, Franklin Khan told an international conference in Port of Spain this week that the plan is to “extend our maritime jurisdiction seawards to the outer edge of our continental margin. This would be major development as it would extend our boundaries to areas in close proximity to the Guyana-Suriname Basin in which major hydrocarbon discoveries have already been made. This country, therefore, has an opportunity to increase its access to potential oil and gas resources. However, opportunities are like sunrises, if you wait too long you miss them. You can therefore be assured that we will pursue this matter aggressive­ly,” he said.

Island production has in recent years fallen to less than 100,000 barrels daily. Petrotrin, the major refinery which produced oil and petroleum products for much of the Caribbean trade bloc in recent decades, closed late last year under the weight of debt, overstaffing and age among other issues, putting a massive dent in a sector, which had been producing oil for more than 100 years.

Down to the southeast in Guyana, meanwhile, ExxonMobil along with partners Hess Oil of the US and Nexen of China first discovered world class oil deposits in mid 2015, setting up a mad rush to Guyana by global oil companies such as Repsol, Tullow, Total and Chevrol among others largely because the Guyana basin has lived up to predications by the US Geological Surveys about holding up to 14 billion barrels of oil and being the second largest undeveloped oilfield in the world. Hammerhead-1, one of the more recent wells discovered, neighbors a concession owned by the UK’s Tullow oil and Eco Atlantic. The two say it is just a matter of time before oil gushes to the surface as Hammerhead is one of the largest of Exxon’s discoveries.

Exxon is planning to begin actual oil production by March next year but officials have said that it could be as early at October 2019 as the preparatory work is well advanced and the basin is the gift that keeps on giving. A massive Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel will be here from a Singapore shipyard by June to position itself to store and distribute oil. The company said last month that sub sea work has already begun to connect wells via umbilical chords as it races to develop its highly successful oilfield. Initial production is slated at 120,000 barrels daily, moving up to 750,000 by 2025.

The new discovery has also fired up exploratory work in neighboring Suriname but it is yet to find any production offshore to add to the 16,000 barrels it produces daily from onshore wells in the west near Guyana. Experts say it is when and not if the country will find oil.

“The rate of these finds remains well above industry standards and continues to allow for further de-risking of the deep and ultra-deep one, but we still have a substantial way to go before we can confidently say the one has been de-risked. This continues to be positive news for the people of Guyana, but the real substance of these finds will come when all Guyanese are able to benefit from these discoveries, whether directly and / or indirectly,” Bynoe said. He said authorities have been advised that Exxon plans to bring as many as five massive FPSO in about five years to cater for oil production, storage and distribution to international markets. Drill ships will next target the Yellowtail-1 well, about six miles west of Talipia-1.

Posted 12:00 am, February 7, 2019
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