ExxonMobil poised to announce another major find offshore Guyana; Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister to discuss refining Guyana’s oil with Exxon

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 March 2017, 21:35 by Denis Chabrol

ExxonMobil’s Stabroek Block concession offshore Guyana.

As ExxonMobil prepares to announce that it has found more hydrocarbons in commercial quantities at its latest exploration well offshore Guyana, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley is travelling to the United States to meet with top officials of that American oil giant to discuss refining Guyana’s oil, according to well-placed sources.

Guyana’s Ministry of the Presidency said Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman told Cabinet on Tuesday that ExxonMobil “could make another significant announcement on its work in Guyana Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within the next two weeks.”

Well-placed sources said ExxonMobil’s disclosure is expected to be about another oil find, this time at the well named Snoek, located more than 100 miles from the coast.  More details about the previously drilled well, Payara, is also expected to be provided by the company.

ExxonMobil’s Vice President – Investor Relations and Secretary, Jeff Woodbury is scheduled to host a discussion of First Quarter 2017 financial and operating results in late April.

With the state-owned Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago (Petrotrin) stating categorically that it is ready to refine Guyana’s oil as part of a strategic alliance in the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the leader of that twin-island nation will be discussing regional partnerships when he meets with top officials of ExxonMobil and other American oil companies during his visit to the Houston, Texas.

“The discussions will centre around strategies for navigating the challenges facing the energy sector and opportunities for growth and partnerships  here at home (Trinidad and Tobago) and in the region,” Rowley’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. The Trinidad and Tobago leader’s March 28 to 31 visit to Texas will include meetings with four energy companies- BP Amoco, Shell, ExxonMobil and EOG Resources.

Rowley will be accompanied in the “several rounds of energy talks with leading companies in the industry” by Minister in the office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, Stuart Young.

Guyana plans to begin commercial oil production in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Presidency said newly-appointed Presidential Advisor on Petroleum, Dr. Jan Mangal,  briefed Cabinet about his role and plans against the background of President David Granger’s vision for the development of the sector. ““It is to give Cabinet some comfort around the role itself, my experience and then also the vision of the President and the high level vision, which we will have to work on and Guyanese will have to work on. But it was really to give Cabinet a view of where we are starting for Guyana,” said Mangal, an expert in offshore and civil engineering.

The oil and gas expert explained that as the Advisor to the President on Petroleum, he will be tasked with being the ‘middle ground’ between the Government and stakeholders to ensure that the necessary plans and policies are put in place.  “It is around bringing oil and gas expertise, someone from the industry like myself, in the position in the Ministry of the Presidency, who can speak to all stakeholders in Government and outside of Government. It is a position in the Ministry that can look at things holistically in terms of Guyana’s energy sector; how oil and gas will affect Guyana as a whole. It is about how it will touch all areas of Guyana, business and all social issues. The role will touch on all areas and will try to stimulate the stakeholders input and I expect that it will grow over time,” he said.

Dr. Mangal, whose appointment is funded through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), noted that while his initial role is intended to last for a six month period, there is an intention to seek funding for the appointment to be extended and expanded to include other experts from the technical, legal and commercial areas of the oil and gas sector.

“I envision a small team in the Ministry, about five or less and this is a team of experts from the industry and they will be there to assist the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Finance and to also work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. So under that five, there will be a commercial oil and gas expert, an oil and gas lawyer, an analyst and possibly a technical person but these will be persons who have been in the industry for a very long time, who know the industry very well and who are prepared to come and advise the Government of Guyana,” the Presidential Advisor said.

Minister Trotman, in an invited comment, said that Dr. Mangal’s presentation could not be more timely since ExxonMobil has been aggressively carrying out seismic and exploratory work, with an announcement expected in another week or two. This, he said, will help the Cabinet to act more definitively on matters in relation to this sector.

“The presentation was about the technical aspects, where we would spend out monies and the kind of vision we would like to have for Guyana. So it was a good presentation; very timely and now I believe that Cabinet will examine it some more and look at the considerations some of which are political, some technical, some financial and we will ultimately come up with the blueprint if I can put it that way for the development of the oil and gas sector,” he said.

Mangal holds a Doctorate in Offshore Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Edinburgh, has worked in the marine and oil and gas industries for the past 18 years.

Minister Trotman noted that Government is working round the clock to put all systems in place to prepare Guyana for the ‘first oil.’ “We are preparing every day at the Ministry and Dr. Mangal is joining the Government to prepare for the ‘first oil’ and so there is something happening everyday. We are looking at contracts, identifying persons to do things, assessing requests for permits. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), they are all working,” he said in the Ministry of the Presidency’s statement.

In January 2017, ExxonMobil announced positive results from its Payara-1 well offshore Guyana. Payara is ExxonMobil’s second oil discovery on the Stabroek Block. The well was drilled by ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, and encountered more than 95 feet (29 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. It was safely drilled to 18,080 feet (5,512 meters) in 6,660 feet (2,030 meters) of water. The Payara field discovery is about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of the 2015 Liza discovery.

According to ExxonMobil, in addition to the Payara discovery, appraisal drilling at Liza-3 has identified an additional high quality, deeper reservoir directly below the Liza field, which is estimated to contain between 100-150 million oil equivalent barrels.