Exxon Mobil said it began drilling new exploration wells offshore of Guyana as the nation's biggest energy company continues to expand its efforts near the tiny South American nation.
The new drilling comes about two weeks after Exxon Mobil abruptly halted some of its seismic datagathering activities offshore of Guyana - but nearer to the Venezuelan border - when a contracted vessel fled after being confronted by the Venezuelan navy.
Irving-based Exxon Mobil, and its New York-based partner Hess Corp., insisted the naval incident would not stall its exploration and drilling activities elsewhere off of Guyana's shore.
Exxon said it started drilling the Haimara-1 exploration well, which is located almost 20 miles east of the previous Pluma-1 discovery in the southeastern portion of what's known as the Stabroek Block. Exxon is using the Stena Carron drillship that's operated by the United Kingdom's Stena Drilling.
And Noble Corp., which operates out of Sugar Land, will use its Noble Tom Madden drillship to drill a second exploration well in January, the Tilapia-1 well, which is about three miles west of the Longtail-1 discovery. The Tilapia-1 well is located in the growing Turbot area, Exxon Mobil said.
"We continue to prioritize high-potential prospects in close proximity to previous discoveries in order to establish opportunities for material and efficient development," said Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration.
Exxon Mobil also is progressing with the Liza Phase 1 development offshore of Guyana that is expected to transition into production mode in early 2020. Drilling efforts are ongoing and pipelineinstallation will begin in the spring. The Liza Destiny vessel - a floating, production, storage and offloading ship, or FPSO - its expected to arrive in the fall after being built in Singapore.
Exxon Mobil said the Stabroek Block could eventually support up to five FPSOs producing more than 750,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day by 2025.
Despite the naval incident with Venezuela, which disputes its offshore boundaries with Guyana, Exxon Mobil said it will soon deploy a seismic vessel to the Turbot region, but seismic activities won't resume for now in the northwestern portion of the Stabroek that's nearer Venezuela.
Outside of West Texas' booming Permian Basin, Exxon Mobil's biggest growth area is offshoreGuyana.
Late last year, Exxon and Hess Corp 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.