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Exxon Mobil Corp.’s third development project, Payara, reached its nameplate production capacity of 220,000 bbl/d in January 2024, less than three months after commencing production in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana.
Payara was brought online ahead of plans, Exxon’s CEO Darren Woods said during the company’s fourth-quarter 2023 webcast with analysts on Feb. 2.
“Part of that was around the optimization of the drilling and making sure that we had what we needed to bring that up quickly,” Woods said.
“Don't underestimate the complexity of these reservoirs and the challenges the organization has,” Woods said on Stabroek. “So, as they're drilling and gaining information, we're optimizing that as we go as well. And if we see an opportunity to advance the development and bring it forward … we'll take that.”
Texas-based Exxon, which leads a consortium in Stabroek that includes Hess Corp. and China’s CNOOC, said that Guyana exceeded its full-year gross production guidance of 380,000 bbl/d, delivering more than 390,000 bbl/d, according to a Feb. 2 financial and operational press release.
Payara, by way of the Prosperity FPSO vessel, commenced production on Nov. 14, Hess reported Jan. 31 in its financial press release. The project was initially expected to reach its nameplate capacity over the first half of 2024 as new wells were brought online, both Exxon and partner Hess Corp. said in separate press releases late last year.
Production from offshore Guyana continues to rise in importance for Hess. Hess’ Bakken assets produced 89,000 bbl/d in fourth-quarter 2023 compared to 128,000 bbl/d that came from Guyana in the same period. Guyana’s oil production is only going to increase as the Bakken peaks and then plateaus, Hess’ CEO John Hess has said on several occasions and during earnings calls.
Exxon’s CFO Kathy Mikells said economic decisions helped the Prosperity FPSO reach its nameplate capacity sooner than projected.
“And that's because we made the decision to drill more wells to ensure that we could get that boat up to capacity as quickly as possible and our organization absolutely delivered on that,” Mikells said. Payara “was originally targeted to actually start up in 2024 and we were able to pull it forward. We were then able to pull forward incremental well drilling in order to get that FPSO up to operating nameplate capacity in an extraordinarily short amount of time.”
Stabroek production rising through 2027
Stabroek boasts estimated gross discovered recoverable resources of more than 11 Bboe, according to Exxon and Hess. Some analysts estimate the potential could be twice that.
Yellowtail, sanctioned in April 2022, is Exxon’s fourth development offshore Guyana. The project will be the company’s largest development yet with a gross nameplate capacity of 250,000 bbl/d, according to Exxon. First production is expected in 2025.
Uaru, Exxon’s fifth development offshore Guyana, was sanctioned in April 2023 with a gross production capacity of 250,000 bbl/d. First production is expected in 2026.
In October, Exxon submitted the field development plan to Guyana’s government for Whiptail, the company’s sixth development offshore Guyana.
By year-end 2027, Exxon expects to have six projects online offshore Guyana with a capacity of over 1.2 MMbbl/d in aggregate. The projects have a 30% lower greenhouse-gas intensity than the average of Exxon’s upstream portfolio, with a low cost of supply and strong returns, according to the company.
Gas-to-power plant timeline
Stabroek also has estimated recoverable gas reserves that exceed 16 Tcf, according to a report published by Guyana’s government.
Gas from Stabroek will be shipped to the Guyana mainland via a 200-km pipeline, feeding a new power plant located in the Wales planning area, according to Hess.
The gas-to-power project will initially produce about 50 MMcf/d of gas and reduce the use of diesel to generate power — reducing energy costs and carbon emissions in Guyana, according to Hess.
Mikells said work in Guyana related to laying the pipeline for the gas-to-power project continued to move forward. The project will source gas from Exxon’s first and second developments in Stabroek, the Liza 1 and Liza 2 offshore projects.
“We will be taking Liza 1 and Liza 2 offline for a period of time as we kind of hook them up to that pipeline,” Mikells said. “So that's just a reminder that we'll have a little bit of downtime at some point in the second half.”
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