January has finally arrived, bringing with it an end to exhausted budgets as coffers are refreshed and ready to fund 2019 plans. While experts will pontificate about the year ahead, I prefer to look at the whirlwind of positive news that sent 2018 out with more of a bang than a whimper.

The offshore sector roared a little louder at year-end as a couple of young lions, Guyana and Mexico, made the front page. With its 10th Guyana discovery, Exxon Mobil added another 1 Bboe of discovered resources to its ledger. The Pluma-1 well in the Stabroek Block found 37 m (121 ft) of oil-bearing sandstone, on trend with other discoveries in Guyana’s Cretaceous sandstone play.

“The Stabroek Block’s recoverable resource volumes now surpass 5 Bboe, marking one of the most impressive exploration campaigns in recent times,” said Luiz Hayum, research analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s Latin America upstream oil and gas team, in a press release. “With 17 prospects still to drill, Stabroek is writing Guyana’s future. It will easily become the fourth largest oil-producing nation in Latin America by the next decade, with chances to outperform the countries preceding it. If Venezuela and Mexico fail to address production declines, Guyana could quickly surpass them to No. 2,” he said.

The consortium of Sierra Oil and Gas, Talos Energy and Premier Oil are working to address the production decline with its work at Zama in the Sureste Basin offshore Mexico. Appraisal drilling is underway at the Zama 2 well with plans to drill a third well. The Zama Field is estimated to hold 400 MMboe to 800 MMboe of recoverable resources and is expected to start production in 2022, according to a DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG press release. At press time, DEA announced that an agreement to purchase Sierra Oil & Gas had been signed. Once the transaction is completed as expected in the first half of 2019, DEA will assume Sierra’s 40% nonoperated interest in the Zama project and five other blocks located offshore Mexico.

Technology innovations in hydraulic fracturing operations look to break away from the pack in the new year. Halliburton, for example, with its Prodigi AB applies automation to hydraulic fracturing to deliver better well performance, according to the company. AFGlobal offers another example of innovative thinking with its DuraStim pump. The company announced the successful completion of its field evaluation of the pump in the Permian Basin. The new 6,000-hp pressure pumping technology offers the equivalent of three times the effective horsepower of a conventional frac unit, according to a press release.

My outlook for 2019 is more good than bad as new discoveries and technologies will keep all sectors of the industry busy.

Jennifer Presley’s As I See It column originally appeared in the January 2019 edition of E&P.