Rystad: Ramp up in Guyana exploration activity expected

March 29, 2021

Despite a recent exploration disappointment in ExxonMobil-operated Canje block, exploration activity in Guyana is expected to rebound with an annual record of 16 wells, including on Stabroek block, also operated by ExxonMobil, Rystad Energy said.

The year’s first completed well, Bulletwood-1 in the Canje block, encountered quality reservoirs but non-commercial hydrocarbons, according to Westmount Energy, which holds a stake in Canje partner JHI Associates. The well was targeting more than 500 million bbl of mean prospective resources in a prospect similar to Liza in the neighboring Stabroek block.

Guyana’s exploration activity will be spearheaded by ExxonMobil as operator of Stabroek and Canje blocks. The company set an ambitious divestment target of $15 billion—offloading mature assets in Asia, Europe, and Africa—and is expected to prioritize investments in high-value assets such as Stabroek.

The company’s drilling activity will focus on firming up resources in the southeastern part of the block, where the operator identified deeper plays underneath existing discoveries and is now eyeing the unexplored northwestern parts of the block. Work is also lined up on Canje block.

“Rystad Energy data suggests that close to 300 million boe has been discovered on average for each exploration well (wildcat and appraisal) drilled in the country over the past six years. With around 16 exploration wells planned, including some in riskier frontier regions, 2021 holds a lot of promise,” said Santosh Kumar, upstream analyst, Rystad.

ExxonMobil’s fleet of contracted drillships in Guyana is set to increase to six with the arrival of the Noble Sam Croft in April. Rystad data shows three drillships currently in the greater Liza area performing development drilling activity. The recently arrived Stena DrillMAX has initiated drilling activities on the Longtail-2 appraisal well, while the Stena Carron drillship, which recently concluded drilling Bulletwood-1, has now spudded the Jabillo-1 exploration well in Canje block.

ExxonMobil and its partners plan to deploy four floating production, storage and offloading units (FPSOs) to develop existing resources within the block. However, the operator is expected to ramp up drilling activities, as it plans to have at least five FPSOs online by 2026.

Success at this year’s Mako-2 and Uaru-2 wells on Stabroek could potentially firm up the Mako-Uaru area as a candidate for the next FPSO location. On Canje, plans are in place to drill two wells in 2021 in addition to the uncommercial Bulletwood-1 find, with the Jabillo well already in progress.

No further exploration plans are expected for the Kaieteur block.

Canada-based explorer CGX Energy operates Demerara and Corentyne blocks with 66.67% interests, with Frontera Energy as its consortium partner. The plan for 2021 consists of up to two exploration wells at a combined estimated cost of $90 million.

There are no drilling plans yet reported for 2021 on Repsol-operated Kanuku block and Tullow Oil’s Orinduik block. However, 3D seismic reprocessing is scheduled to mature prospects for future drilling.

Meanwhile, in eastern Guyanese waters there are only two unallocated blocks: Block C, which lies east of Kaieteur block and north of Stabroek, and a smaller 1,325-sq km block relinquished by the Canje consortium.

The other unallocated offshore deepwater region lies northwest of Guyana’s offshore sector. This area, formerly called Roraima block, is bordered by Kaieteur and Stabroek. It is part of a territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela, and therefore potentially struggling to generate interest.

Guyana is mulling a new bidding round for 2022.