Guyana Could Clear ExxonMobil’s Payara Project

(Argus, 11.Aug.2020) — Guyana’s new government will decide by the end of August whether to approve ExxonMobil’s 220,000 b/d Payara project, natural resources minister Vickram Bharrat said.

Payara is ExxonMobil’s third development project on the deepwater Stabroek block, but approval was delayed by a five-month political impasse that ended last week with the inauguration of the new administration of President Irfaan Ali.

Payara is one of the government’s priorities “and we are hoping to resolve the matter by the end of this month,” Bharrat said.

ExxonMobil hopes to take a final investment decision on Payara by September, the company’s senior vice president Neil Chapman said on 31 July.

“We need to be ready to move as soon as the government is ready,” he said. “We are ready, but we need an approved development plan, and that approved development plan needs to come from the government.”

The government and its energy department are studying Payara “as we would like to satisfy ourselves that it is a good contract that will benefit Guyanese people,” Bharrat said, alluding to the Ali administration’s campaign pledge to improve the state take in oil deals.

Payara is part of ExxonMobil’s plan to expand Stabroek production to 750,000 b/d by 2025. The company heads a consortium that includes US independent Hess and Chinese state-owned CNOOC unit Nexen.

ExxonMobil started production from the Liza 1 project in December 2019. Current production of 32.1°API Liza crude is expected to reach 120,000 b/d this month, says Hess.

The consortium is already on schedule to develop the Liza 2 project on Stabroek in mid-2022.

Start-up of Payara was scheduled for 2023, but could be delayed by up to 12 months, ExxonMobil said in April after oil prices crashed and the Covid-19 pandemic set in.

Payara includes 45 wells used for production, water injection and gas injection.

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By Canute James