Exxon Mobil said it made two more oil and gas discoveries offshore of Guyana, bringing the total number of discoveries up to a dozen near the tiny South American nation.
The new Tilapia-1 and Haimara-1 well discoveries come in the Turbot area of what's known as the potentially prolific Stabroek Block offshore of Guyana that Exxon Mobil is exploring with its New York-based partner, Hess Corp.
Late last year, Irving-based Exxon and Hess increased their reserve estimates offshore of Guyana by 25 percent after making a 10th discovery in the region. They hiked their reserve estimate from 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent up to 5 billion. Exxon said Wednesday that these 11th and 12th discoveries only add to the running total.
Outside of West Texas' booming Permian Basin, Exxon Mobil's biggest growth area is now offshore Guyana.
"We see a lot of development potential in the Turbot area and continue to prioritize exploration of high-potential prospects here," said Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration. "We expect this area to progress to a major development hub."
The new discoveries are the first since Exxon Mobil abruptly halted in late December some of its seismic data gathering activities offshore of Guyana - but nearer to the Venezuelan border - when a contracted vessel fled after being confronted by the Venezuelan navy.
At the time, Exxon insisted the naval incident would not stall its exploration and drilling activities elsewhere off of Guyana's shore.
The Haimara-1 exploration well, for instance, is located almost 20 miles east of the previous Pluma-1 discovery in the southeastern portion of the Stabroek Block.
The Haimara well was drilled at more than 18,000 feet at water depths of about 4,600 feet and discovered mostly natural gas and condensate. The Tilapia well though found crude oil with the well at almost 18,800 feet in depths of nearly 6,000 feet.
Noble Corp.'s Tom Madden vessel drilled the Tilapia-1 well and will next tackle the Yellowtail-1 well about six miles farther west in the Turbot area.
Exxon said it sees the potential for at least five floating, production storage and offloading vessels, or FPSO vessels, on the Stabroek Block producing more than 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025. The initial Liza Phase 1 development is progressing on schedule and is expected to begin producing up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day in early 2020 with the new Liza Destiny FPSO.
Exxon is expected to sanction Liza Phase 2 by the end of March with an expected to startup by mid-2022. A third development, Payara, also is expected in 2019 with a startup scheduled for 2023.