Guyana, Suriname eye further drilling from oil majors after discoveries

Guyana and Suriname expect continued exploratory drilling over the next two years by oil majors in their joint offshore basin after a string of recent discoveries, government officials and corporate executives said at a conference on Wednesday.

The neighbouring South American countries, along with Brazil, attracted the most attendees to sessions at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston this week, outshining discussions of the U.S. and Mexican sides of the Gulf of Mexico.

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In Guyana, where a group led by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) has discovered more than nine billion barrels of oil and gas, an executive from Spain’s Repsol SA (REP.MC) said the company planned to drill offshore next year, despite two previous dry wells.

“I do hope that in 2022 we will have a major discovery in the Kanuku block because that will be to the benefit of Guyana too,” the country’s Natural Resources minister, Vickram Bharrat, said.

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France’s TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), a partner in three blocks in Guyana, expects to begin drilling another exploration well this year, said Jean-Michel Lavergne, who leads the company’s Americas exploration and production unit. Toronto-based CGX Energy Inc (OYL.V) will drill in the Corentyne block, Bharrat said.

Not counting future potential discoveries, Guyana expects output from the Stabroek block – which Exxon operates with Hess Corp (HES.N) and China’s CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) – to reach nearly one million barrels per day (bpd) by 2025 or 2026, Bharrat said, up from 125,000 bpd today.

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Suriname aims to complete negotiations with TotalEnergies, Qatar Petroleum (QATPE.UL) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) – which were awarded three shallow water blocks in June – this quarter, said Patrick Brunings, exploration manager of state oil company Staatsolie.

Five other blocks are available and Staatsolie is evaluating next steps, he said. Staatsolie hopes to operate in future partnerships.

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“We have engaged all the companies involved in the bid round to see if there is further interest for the remaining blocks,” Brunings said. 

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