Chevron Stayed In Venezuela Long After Rivals Quit

(Wall Street Journal, Kejal Vyas and Bradley Olson, 8.Nov.2018) — For nearly a century, Chevron Corp. has weathered dictatorships, coups and nationalization drives to keep pumping oil in Venezuela.

But recently, executives at the last U.S. oil major in the country have debated whether it may be time to get out, according to people familiar with their deliberations.

For now, Chevron hopes to hang on and outlast President Nicolás Maduro, as it did with his late mentor Hugo Chávez and other rulers.

“We’re committed to our position in Venezuela,” Clay Neff, Chevron’s president of exploration and production in Africa and Latin America, said in an interview Thursday following initial online publication of this story.

Chevron’s dilemma is both moral and commercial. The California-based giant long enjoyed close relations with the socialist regime that controls the world’s largest oil reserves, and has earned big money in Venezuela—about $2.8 billion between 2004 and 2014, according to cash-flow estimates by analytics firmGlobalData .

The company is aware a pullout could trigger a collapse of the government’s finances, because a significant chunk of its scarce hard currency comes from joint operations with Chevron.

Yet by staying in the country as its economic and humanitarian crises deepen, the company risks damage to its reputation by being seen as supporting an authoritarian regime sanctioned by the U.S. government. It also isn’t making much money here anymore.

Chevron has had to put up with many provocations in Venezuela, including late payments, requests for employees to attend political rallies and bickering over loans Venezuela sought because it couldn’t afford oil-field maintenance. Chevron’s joint ventures with the state oil company are regularly subjected to what Venezuelan prosecutors have labeled corrupt overcharging by vendors. Graft and the risk it will worsen have weighed on executives as they consider Chevron’s position in the country.

It has become harder to stomach since the big money disappeared from the Venezuela operations, say people familiar with the company. Chevron operations in Venezuela lost money from 2015 to 2017, according to GlobalData, then eked out a modest profit this year thanks to higher oil prices. Oil fields are aging, and unless more reserves are opened up, Chevron’s work in Venezuela will run out of steam in less than five years, GlobalData estimates.

A turning point for foreign companies operating in Venezuela came in 2006, when Mr. Chávez began nationalizing oil fields managed by foreign operators and sharply raising taxes.

Rewritten contracts made Petroleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, the operator and majority owner of most projects. Chevron’s top U.S. competitors, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips ,balked at the changes, left, and filed suit. Exxon has yet to recover the full value of the billions in equipment and other assets it left behind. ConocoPhillips recently reached a $2 billion settlement.

Some European oil companies, such as Total SA and Equinor AS A (then called Statoil), remained but reduced their holdings.

Chevron decided to stay, and—led by a charismatic Iranian-American executive named Ali Moshiri—formed an array of partnerships with PdVSA. Mr. Moshiri, who was head of Chevron’s business in Latin America and Africa, sometimes appeared in public with Mr. Chávez, who called him a “dear friend” on one occasion.

Joint ventures Mr. Moshiri pioneered became a model for foreign companies doing business in Venezuela. A venture called Petropiar between Chevron and PdVSA is one of four so-called upgrader ventures between the state oil company and foreign operators to blend Venezuela’s tar-like heavy crude with lighter oil or other substances and make it transportable.

Though Chevron’s bet paid off financially for years, an oil-price crash beginning in late 2014 triggered a vicious cycle in which government revenue fell and then oil production did, too, as the country placed priority on debt payments over the heavy reinvestment oil fields need to stay healthy.

Since the end of 2017, Venezuela has defaulted on more than $6 billion in debt payments, according to Fitch Ratings, while its crude-oil industry has been reduced close to ruins by neglect and the departure of experienced engineers.

Oil production has fallen to 1.2 million barrels a day from 3.2 million daily in 2006, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. A country with vast reserves now produces roughly as much oil as the U.S. state of North Dakota. As output has declined, and thus revenue, the country’s economic crisis has worsened.

With supermarket shelves nearly bare and prices soaring, two-thirds of Venezuelans reported losing 25 pounds of weight in 2017, according to a survey. Violence is rampant, including atrocities by police and soldiers. Hospitals lack medicine and clean water, yet the government rejects most humanitarian aid as a Trojan horse for foreign intervention. More than three million Venezuelans have fled, leaving those who remain to face crushing rates of murder, malnutrition and hyperinflation.

Venezuela’s energy enterprises are under pressure from expanding corruption probes in the U.S. and Europe. A U.S. investigation, centering on allegations that PdVSA officials solicited vendors for bribes, has netted 15 guilty pleas, including from a number of PdVSA honchos.

An investigation in the tiny European nation of Andorra has led to money-laundering charges against 28 people, including former Venezuelan deputy ministers, who allegedly took $2 billion through kickbacks-for-contracts schemes from 2007 through 2012.

Zair Mundaray, a former Venezuelan prosecutor now in exile, said his team uncovered an alleged scheme at the Petropiar joint venture in which PdVSA executives skipped formal contract bidding and handpicked the vendors of a wide range of supplies, from oil equipment to cafeteria coffee, at exorbitant prices. The profits were distributed among certain Petropiar managers, PdVSA higher-ups and the suppliers, the charging documents said.

PdVSA and Venezuela’s Information Ministry didn’t respond to calls and detailed emails seeking comment.

Venezuelan charging documents and purchasing invoices reviewed by The Wall Street Journal allege that contractors pilfered more than $200 million in two years from the joint venture through markups such as $156,000 for printer/copiers and $9,000 for ink-jet cartridges.

Among the accused was Manuel Sosa, a former soap-opera actor who once dated a daughter of Mr. Chávez, whose company supplied the costly printer/copiers. Mr. Sosa pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to four years’ house arrest in return for his cooperation. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Where were the checks? Where was the accounting?” asked Mr. Mundaray. “There’s absolutely no way that [Chevron] did not know what was happening.” He said he has given the evidence he collected to the U.S. Justice Department, which declined to comment.

Pedro Burelli, a former PdVSA board member and a Maduro critic, said Chevron “turned a blind eye to what was going on.”

“When you’ve agreed to work with a majority partner that is derelict, you’re just setting yourself up for a huge risk. You get deeper and deeper, when you should be hitting the red button, to get yourself out,” said Mr. Burelli.

Chevron said it complies with all applicable laws wherever it operates and expects its partners to do so as well. It said it doesn’t control the procurement process in the joint venture, in which Chevron has a 30% nonoperating stake. In oil and gas joint ventures, the operator typically has primary authority over costs, though minority partners are generally consulted and sign off on certain expenses. Chevron said nothing in documents it was shown suggested any wrongdoing by the U.S. company.

Oversight of the investigation changed hands just as it was picking up steam. Mr. Mundaray and his team left Venezuela in August 2017 after their boss, former Attorney General Luisa Ortega, criticized Mr. Maduro for alleged human-rights abuses. The president called the prosecutors traitors.

A new attorney general, Tarek William Saab, provided a list of people accused that lacked some names on Mr. Mundaray’s list.

One missing name was that of former Petropiar chief Francisco Velasquez, who the former prosecutors said splurged on a pink Ferrari and a villa at the exclusive Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic while the oil project suffered backlogs and delays. He couldn’t be reached for comment. Mr. Saab didn’t respond to comment requests.

In April, two Chevron employees working at the Petropiar joint venture were jailed by Venezuelan military intelligence when they refused to sign a contract for oil-processing equipment priced at what they considered well above market value. The employees were released after six weeks of tense negotiations, but not before a thinly veiled threat from Chevron: free them or we will leave, people familiar with the confrontation say.

Chevron confirmed two employees were arrested in April and released in June but said, “We have no further information to share on this matter.”

A dwindling number of foreign companies are still doing business with the Maduro administration, which is facing threats of tougher sanctions by Washington. The U.S. has sanctioned dozens of Venezuelans, including Mr. Maduro, for allegations varying from corruption to human-rights abuses to drug trafficking. The sanctions bar American citizens and companies from doing business with them.

Mr. Maduro has said he wants foreign oil partners to use a cryptocurrency called the petro his government designed to evade U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan debt. The U.S. in March barred Americans from using the petro.

By staying in Venezuela, Chevron risks exposing itself to legal penalties under U.S. anti-corruption laws, some analysts say. Chevron said it “abides by a strict code of business ethics under which the company complies with all applicable international, U.S. and Venezuelan laws.”

Its managers’ meetings with government and PdVSA officials “comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including the U.S. sanctions directed towards Venezuela,” Chevron said.

About 700,000 daily barrels of the country’s oil production comes from joint ventures between PdVSA and foreign companies, consultants say. That includes about 200,000 to 250,000 barrels a day from Chevron ventures.

Joint-venture output has generated far more cash for the government in recent years than oil pumped by PdVSA alone, because the state company’s production has gone to repay debts to allies such as China and Russia or to be processed into gasoline the government provides almost free. That means a Chevron withdrawal would take a big bite out of government’s revenue.

Another foreign company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, is weighing an exit from most of its remaining operations in Venezuela through a sale of its stake in a joint venture, according to people familiar with its plans. A spokeswoman for Shell said such a deal wouldn’t amount to a total exit, as the company is working to develop Venezuelan gas assets offshore that would supply nearby Trinidad and Tobago.

Some analysts believe other Western companies operating in Venezuela, such as France’s Total or Norway’s Equinor, might feel pressure to follow a departure or partial exit by either Shell or Chevron. At the same time, according to GlobalData, those that stay might be able to gain access to new fields or renegotiate contracts for better terms. Chinese or Russian companies such as PAO Rosneftcould be beneficiaries of any such departures in the long run, analysts say.

Total, Equinor and Rosneft officials either declined to comment or didn’t respond to questions.

Signs of a troubled relationship between Chevron and the Venezuelan government emerged a year ago when Mr. Moshiri’s successor as head of Chevron’s Latin American and African operations, Mr. Neff, sat down for a meeting with Mr. Maduro and other Venezuelan officials.

Venezuelan officials snapped a photo without Chevron’s consent and publicized it. At Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, Calif., concerns grew that the company was being duped into making an appearance in Venezuelan propaganda, people familiar with the matter said.

While such photo ops had occurred before, the country’s worsening economic collapse, plus U.S. sanctions, are making them harder to tolerate, the people said. Chevron declined to discuss the Caracas meeting.

The company’s closeness with the government is generating rancor among PdVSA’s workers, who have been quitting in droves amid hyperinflation that has pummeled their salaries to the equivalent of less than $10 a month.

Jose Bodas, a union leader in eastern Venezuela where Petropiar is located, said photos of sports cars and European vacations posted on social media by managers angers workers who sometimes lack boots and hardhats.

“I’m not opposed to people having Ferraris and mansions, but this is all corruption,” Mr. Bodas said. “I don’t mind saying it—if you’re a multinational working with this government, you’re an accomplice to what’s going on.”

—Ginette Gonzalez and Samuel Rubenfeld contributed to this article.

Write to Kejal Vyas at kejal.vyas@wsj.com and Bradley Olson at Bradley.Olson@wsj.com

Appeared in the November 9, 2018, print edition as ‘Venezuela Tests Chevron Staying Power.’

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#LatAmNRG

In Guyana, Exxon Oil Project Stirs International Tensions

(Houston Chronicle, James Osborne, 2.Nov.2018) — Almost 4,000 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, off the northern coastline of South America, Exxon Mobil is drilling one of the biggest oil discoveries of the last decade, the so-called Stabroek Block with an estimated 4 billion barrels of crude.

It stands to buoy the oil giant’s fortunes at a time the company’s oil and gas production is flagging. But the discovery has come at a price.

The massive find, located in the waters of the tiny country of Guyana, has reignited a century old territory dispute with its powerful and volatile neighbor Venezuela, flaming geopolitical tension in a region where the United States, China and Russia are increasingly competing for influence.

With Venezuela claiming a portion of Exxon’s field, Guyana has taken the case to the International Court of Justice, the United Nation’s court system in the Netherlands, as U.S. diplomatic and military officials in Washington watch adversaries in Beijing and Moscow warily.

“When we look at the controversy around the territory claims [by Venezuela] it gets pretty complicated pretty quickly,” said Ret. Vice Admiral Kevin Green, who oversaw U.S. naval operations in the Caribbean, Central and South America. “The United States is engaged globally in what is becoming more and more a great power competition. Both Russia and China see opportunities for themselves in that region, to quite frankly frustrate the United States.”

Trouble began even before Exxon, which declined to comment, realized how much oil was in Guyana.

In 2013, the Venezuelan Navy seized a ship contracted by The Woodlands exploration and production company Anadarko to survey the ocean’s bottom for oil. While the boat was in waters recognized internationally as Guyana’s, Venezuela claimed crew members had violated its territory and held them and the ship for a week before releasing them as part of a diplomatic deal.

Then Exxon announced in 2015 it had successfully drilled a test well in Stabroek. Within weeks, Guyana was tossed out of Petrocaribe, the Venezuelan food for oil program, in which countries across Central and South America and the Caribbean provide Venezuela’s 32 million inhabitants with food in exchange for subsidized crude.

Then Venezuela issued a statement asserting its ownership of two-thirds of Guyana’s land and waters claimed not only by Guyana, but also Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

The claim dates back to the late 1800s when Venezuela and Great Britain, which then controlled Guyana, could not agree on the border between their countries. An international tribunal intervened, and the dispute fell dormant until 1949 when a memo, written by one of attorneys that represented Venezuela in the tribunal, surfaced with the claim that judges had colluded with Britain.

Ever since, the border has been a rallying cry in Venezuelan politics. Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States Riyad Insanally said for years Venezuela had pressured oil companies not to explore in Guyana, using the threat of cutting companies off from Venezuelan oil fields – among the world’s largest.

But relations between Caracas and the international oil companies began to break down during the rule of the late Hugo Chavez, who nationalized a number of oil fields, including some held by Exxon.

“It was a bit like a Robert Ludlum novel,” Insanally said of the attorney’s memo. “No one likes being bullied and we feel we’ve been bullied for far too long. But we don’t have any military might, and we don’t have any economic clout. All we can is do is rely on the resourcefulness of our people and international diplomacy.”

The Venezuelan embassy in Washington did not return a call for comment.

The presence of Russia and China in a region long dominated by the United States has escalated what might have been a disagreement among neighbors. The U.S. rivals have again and again provided financial lifelines to Venezuela, devastated by an economic crisis, in exchange for increasing claims on their energy supplies. And they are increasingly investing in Guyana.

China recently loaned Guyana $130 million to expand its airport to allow 747s to land. Earlier this year, the nation of less than 1 million people signed onto China’s Belt and Road pact, through which the Asian superpower is investing in developing countries around the globe.

Rusal, the Russian aluminum giant owned by the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin, has operated bauxite mines in Guyana for more than a decade.

“Nobody wants to see Russian warships sailing around the Caribbean, and they do that occasionally,” said Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., an attorney and former under secretary of state for political affairs. “The region has largely been ours since we chased out the Germans and the French. We don’t need the presence of adversities or potential adversaries. But the way we do this it by taking care of our friends.”

The hope among U.S. officials is that the discovery of oil in Guyana’s waters will not only bring prosperity to a long impoverished nation, but also bring it deeper into the American fold.

So far, that seems to be proving out. U.S., British and Norwegian officials already are advising Guyana on how to manage its newfound wealth when oil is scheduled to start flowing in 2020. The aim is to avoid the so-called resource curse through which corruption and mismanagement become endemic upon the discovery of oil.

“The U.S. is still our major trading partner. Our links with the U.S. are much stronger than Russia and China. But we enjoy good relations with all three because that is the reality of being a small country,” Insanally said.

The presence of iconic American company like Exxon Mobil is only expected to increase Guyana’s bond with the United States. And so far, the oil giant has shown no signs of wavering in its commitment to drilling there, despite rising tensions around its operations.

It’s a calculated risk. Exxon’s oil and gas production has fallen for eight of the last nine quarters. Were Guyana to develop as Exxon has forecast, the additional production could potentially raise the oil giant’s global production by close to 8 percent, said Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at Raymond James.

“Exxon’s legacy production has been so weak in recent years, the company can use all the help it can get,” he said. “Guyana is in some ways the exception that proves the rule. It’s one of the few exploration success stories of this entire decade.”

But developing all of Exxon’s prospects in Guyana will not be quick. And that leaves plenty of time for what is now a legal argument expected to be decided by the courts to potentially escalate into a military conflict.

Brazilian President Michel Temer has already pledged to send in troops should Venezuela invade the disputed area inside Guyana.

“There’s some reports and analysis suggesting Venezuela will start some kind of military action against Guyana,” said Lisa Viscidi, an energy analyst at the Washington think tank Inter-American Dialogue. “It’s still really unlikely they would do that.”

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#LatAmNRG

Guyana May be the Next Big Beast in Global Oil

(The National, Robin Mills, 8.Oct.2018) — One of the few major new conventional oil provinces discovered this century could see the country emerge as the top per capita producer.

Who will be the world’s largest oil producing country per person in the 2020s?

Kuwait perhaps, with 3 million barrels per day and a population just over 4 million? Saudi Arabia or, looking further afield, Brunei or Norway? No, that honour will belong to the South American nation of Guyana, which could well be sharing output of 700,000 barrels per day among just 770,000 people.

Although adjacent to Venezuela, Guyana has been better known for sugarcane, and cricketers such as Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, than oil. But after first striking oil at Liza in 2015, ExxonMobil and partners Hess and China National Offshore Oil Corporation have made seven major discoveries in deep offshore waters, with production due to start in 2020.

Other companies, including Spain’s Repsol and African-focused explorer Tullow, are also looking. And the trend may extend into the former Dutch colony of Suriname to the east. Beyond Suriname is the overseas French department of French Guiana, where Tullow found oil in 2011 although follow-up exploration has been disappointing.

Guyana is one of the few major new conventional oil provinces discovered this century, along with the Kurdistan region of Iraq (which has subsequently disappointed) and India’s Rajasthan in 2004, Brazil’s “pre-salt” and Uganda in 2006, Ghana in 2007 and perhaps Senegal in 2014. After just four years of exploration drilling, Guyana is already set to be the biggest of these after Brazil. Estimated production costs of $46 per barrel are well below current oil prices, and competitive with shale or other leading deep-water areas.

Unlike the US’ mostly very light shale oil, Guyana’s is a medium-light crude closer to major Middle East grades. Likely to be rich in diesel when refined, it helps fill a hole in the world’s crude diet.

Finding new conventional oil is important for the global industry. Companies such as Shell, Total and Eni have increasingly shifted to gas, which has proved much easier to discover in quantity, while BP and their American peers, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, have focused on US shale. Both the International Energy Agency and Opec warn of under-investment and a coming oil crunch, but the major oil reserves in Opec countries and Russia are mostly closed off to international firms by government policy, insecurity and sanctions.

If the discoveries are significant for the world, they will be transformational for Guyana. Gross oil revenues of some $13 billion annually by the mid-2020s, or about $17,000 per inhabitant, contrast to its 2016 GDP of just $3.4bn. Only some 14 per cent of this will come to the government for the first two to three years while costs are paid off, but this is still an enormous bonanza.

But, like other new oil states, Guyana has to manage the perils of a sudden influx of wealth. It has good advice, as a member of the New Producers Group, an initiative of UK think tank Chatham House, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, and the Commonwealth, which brings together experts, politicians, government and civil society from a number of newly-established oil- and gas-producing countries.

These problems are well known but not so easy to solve. Government faces the risks of corruption, nepotism and patronage; a weakening of democracy; over-spending and vulnerability to falls in oil prices; and a lack of capability to manage oil operations and tax collection. The economy is threatened by conflicts over fiscal terms with the oil companies; the temptation to introduce wasteful energy subsidies; inflation and currency over-appreciation; and a loss of competitiveness from the non-oil sector. And the local population confronts unrealistic expectations of sudden wealth; an influx of outsiders; and environmental damage.

These issues are particularly salient for Guyana, a relatively small and poor country with quite high levels of corruption. It also neighbours troubled Venezuela, which has claimed two-thirds of its territory. Some Guyanese worry that the valuable work of oil services and contracting, a way to develop the domestic economy and skills, will be mostly supplied by next-door Trinidad and Tobago, which has a long-standing petroleum industry. The large gas resources found along with the oil also have to be used responsibly.

Much has been learned about potential solutions over the past two decades, though they come with their own conundrums. A sovereign wealth fund, like the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority or Norway’s oil fund, avoids a too-sudden influx of money; stabilises the government budget against oil price volatility; and saves for future generations. A robust political process and rules are needed to ensure the fund is not raided or diverted for pet projects.

A national oil company (NOC) helps build skills and strengthen the management of the sector. But it should not become a vehicle for handing out jobs to cronies or politicised meddling in the industry. Experienced lawyers, accountants, geologists and others are needed to staff a NOC and a petroleum regulator, and cannot be spread too thinly.

It is essential to educate the government machinery, media and civil society, so they understand how much money is coming in, and have a voice in how it is used. Bodies such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report on oil revenues and their allocation.

Guyanese are fortunate to have contrasting examples next door in Venezuela of how a mismanaged oil sector can ruin a country; and Trinidad, where petroleum has generally been positive for the country.

International help and goodwill will hopefully ensure their oil is a bonus not just for the world economy but for the people.

Robin M. Mills is CEO of Qamar Energy, and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis

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Argentina’s Conventional Oil and Gas Attract Explorers

(Ft.com, Charles Newberry, 23.Sep.2019) — Fresh discovery indicates life beyond Vaca Muerta.

A few years ago, when the giant shale play of Vaca Muerta was starting to lure oil majors such as Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell to Argentina’s south-west, a small company called Roch struck oil far away at the country’s southern tip.

The result surprised Ricardo Chacra, the company’s president. Roch had found oil in Tierra del Fuego, traditionally a source of natural gas, in a formation that had not been thought to hold much promise after more than a century of exploration in Argentina.

“We found something new,” Mr Chacra says. The find has fuelled optimism that Argentina’s mature conventional oil and gas reservoirs may have more to give. “When you drill into a mature field, you expect to drill into a squeezed lemon,” Mr Chacra says. “You take out what you can. But sometimes you find a virgin lemon.”

Argentina first struck oil early last century on the mainland of southern Patagonia, about 1,000km north of Tierra del Fuego, and exploration and production spread to the west and north-west. Argentina has the fourth-largest proven oil reserves in South America, trailing Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador and equal with Colombia. But production and reserves sagged under the populist Peronist governments of 2003-15, as price controls and other regulation deterred exploration.

President Mauricio Macri has been removing such constraints to bring capital back to Argentina and his policies have attracted several oil majors. Most of them, however, are going to exploit Vaca Muerta’s shale, the source of unconventional oil and gas that is promising to make Argentina an energy powerhouse for the Americas as a whole.

While a handful of smaller companies has wanted to invest in Vaca Muerta, “it’s incredibly expensive”, says Fiona MacAulay, chief executive of London-based Echo Energy. Instead her company is exploring three conventional blocks in the south of the country at what she estimates to be a 100th of the cost of Vaca Muerta acreage.

Thanks to Argentina’s long history of oil activity, talent, services and infrastructure are available. Gas is delivered by pipeline to Buenos Aires and there are ports to handle oil storage and deliveries.

“The big conventional finds have already been made in Argentina,” says Hugo Giampaoli of local energy consultants GiGa. Even so, they have more to offer. Luciano Fucello, country manager for Houston-based services company NCS Multistage, estimates that only 20 per cent of Argentina’s oil has been recovered.

Daniel Kokogian, a director of Argentina’s Compañía General de Combustibles, says his company has more than doubled its gas output over the past two years in the south, and expects to find “a lot” of conventional oil to recover.

Such potential may not be enough to attract the big guns away from Vaca Muerta but a number of small independents are still taking a shot at a more conventional oil and gas approach.

Canada-based Madalena Energy, for example, is using the cash flow from conventional output to finance drilling in costly Vaca Muerta, says its chief executive, José Penafiel. He estimates that while it takes five to six years to generate a positive cash flow in Vaca Muerta, conventional projects pay back in two to three years.

For companies such as his, which are on far tighter budgets than the majors, he says, “you have to make sure you have the sufficient cash flow to stay in the game long enough to see the value creation of the bigger shale plays”.

An alternative is to push offshore. Several small UK companies, such as London-based Premier Oil and Rockhopper, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the south of England, have explored waters around the Falkland Islands that are claimed by Argentina. While still in the pre-development phase, these companies’ finds could spur bids for acreage in Argentine waters in a bidding round, the first in two decades, proposed for this year. “Pretty much every major I know is looking to bid in that offshore round,” Ms MacAulay says.

“Offshore is the last big question mark for exploration in Argentina,” says Mr Kokogian. Much hope is being pinned on waters about 300km-400km from the coast in depths of more than 1,500m. “We have to go to see what is there,” Mr Kokogian adds. “The prize could be big, or very big.”

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The Weirdest Oil Lawsuit Of 2018

(OilPrice.com, Viktor Katona, 6.Aug.2018) – Rosneft has been rocking the Russian oil sector for quite some time already – first it acquired several domestic assets, in some cases bordering on hostile takeover, then it took on a couple of international commitments in Iraqi Kurdistan and Venezuela and secured hefty tax concessions. This has led to a sense of satiation, fortified by CEO Igor Sechin opining recently that the oil giant will focus on organic growth from now on. In a somewhat dubious manifestation of Rosneft’s new policy, it is now suing its partners in the Sakhalin-I project for an unprecedented 89 billion roubles ($1.4 billion). The reason, coded with great deliberation in legal gobbledygook, seems remarkably humdrum at first sight, yet there is more to it.

Rosneft claims that the Sakhalin-I shareholders have gained 81.7 billion roubles by means of unjust enrichment, whilst another 7.3 billion roubles are to be paid back as interest gained having used third party funds between 2015 and 2018. The basis of the unjust enrichment claim is Rosneft’s allegation that the exploitation of Sakhalin-I has led to oil crossing over from its Northern Chayvo field to the consortium’s Chayvo deposits. Oil migration is a regular feature of any upstream specialist’s life and so far there were only few examples of taking similar issues to court, especially to such a noteworthy sum required. Further complicating matters, two Rosneft subsidiaries, Rosneft-Astra and Sakhalinmorneftegaz-Shelf, are also present in the Sakhalin-I shareholder structure (20 percent) and Rosneft is claiming money from them, too (17.5 billion roubles in total).

Before we start looking at the political underpinning of Rosneft’s claim, it would be expedient to compare the two projects as they are incomparable in size, importance and scale. Sakhalin-I consists of three oil fields that were deemed commercially attractive in 2000 – Chayvo, Odoptu and Arkutun-Dagi – production at which has started in 2005. The three field’s reserves boast an aggregate of 310 million tons of oil and 485 BCm of natural gas (17 TCf), making it Russia’s biggest project in the Pacific Ocean. By comparison, the Northern Tip of the Chayvo field (also called Chayvo North Dome) contains a “mere” 15 million tons of oil and 13 BCm of gas. It also started production significantly later than Sakhalin-I, with the first producing well of the presumed five having been drilled in September 2014.

What the two projects do have in common, however, is their relatively swift peaking out – Sakhalin-I peaked in 2007, roughly one and a half year after production started (11.2 mtpa or 225 kbpd) and has failed to regain that level ever since, even though two additional fields were brought online in 2010 and 2015 – Odoptu and Arkutun-Dagi, respectively. Currently the Sakhalin-I oil output stands at So did the Northern Tip of the Chayvo field – having reached a 50 kbpd peak in 2016, it fell by some 60 percent in the past two years since. From Rosneft’s standpoint, this is mostly due to oil migrating from the northern dome to the southern and central parts of the field.

With the abovementioned facts in mind, one gets a clear picture of why Sakhalin-I is more important from a federal point of view – moreover, interestingly enough, it is the last project on Russian soil to be operated by a foreign company (ExxonMobil, holding the largest stake of 30 percent). Rosneft is demanding payment of 26.7 billion roubles from both ExxonMobil and the Japanese consortium SODECO (consisting of Marubeni, Japan Petroleum Exploration, ITOCHU, INPEX and JOGMEC), whilst the Indian ONGC Videsh should pay 17.8 billion roubles and its subsidiaries 17.5 billion roubles. The amounts in question are indubitably far-fetched – even though oil migration has been an issue for Rosneft for several years already, the required sum is equivalent to 18-19 million barrels of oil under current circumstances, almost a quarter of Sakhalin-I’s total annual production and 17-18 percent of Northern Chayvo’s reserves.

Herein lies the main tenet of the claim – it is less to establish truth and compensate for real losses, rather to exert pressure on shareholders. Rosneft’s ultimate goal is unclear as the Russian state has so far refrained from any sanctions against oil majors operating in the country, be it in an operator or non-operator status, and any deterioration would be deemed inopportune now that the post-World Cup period has brought in a semblance of a thaw. It is clear, however, that the once very powerful Rosneft-Exxon Mobil link is getting weaker following the departure of Rex Tillerson (whose good personal relationship with Igor Sechin helped to forge effective deals) – even though Exxon’s recent abandonment of upstream ventures with Rosneft did not allegedly close the door for any future cooperation, the contours of anything similar happening in the future are increasingly dim.

More than ten years ago, Gazprom has managed to push out then-operator Shell out of the Sakhalin-II venture, using environmental violations as a pretext. Although environmental breaches have been brought up once again this month – a significant herring die off off the Sakhalin coast aroused suspicion that it might have been caused by oil production – it is highly unlikely that Rosneft would follow the same path. Rumours are circulating that the state-owned oil giant is seeking an out-of-court settlement and does not want to take the issue all the way through the Paris arbitration, from the point of view of placating fears about another takeover it would be politic to state that Rosneft does not intend to reshuffle the ownership structure. Yet so far, Rosneft has been highly reluctant to show its cards.

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Guyana’s ‘Astonishing’ Future

(Trinidad Express, David Renwick, 31.Jul.2018) – The US’s leading oil company, ExxonMobil, continues to make discovery after discovery in its Stabroek block offshore Guyana, the latest being Longtail 1 – its eighth so far. The company says this “creates the potential for additional resource development in the south east area of the block.”

Longtail 1 encountered approximately 256 feet of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoir and was drilled safely to 8,057 feet, in water depth of 6,365 feet.

Read the full story online.

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Guyana’s Oil Reserves Are Larger Than Expected

(OilPrice.com, Julianne Geiger, 23.Jul.2018) – Guyana’s recoverable offshore oil reserves are larger than expected—by almost a billion barrels, Hess Corp CEO John Hess said in a Monday press release.

Gross discovered recoverable resources for Hess’s Stabroek Block has been revised upward to 4 million barrels of oil equivalent—up from the previous estimate of 3.2 billion barrels.

“The Stabroek Block is a massive world class resource that keeps getting bigger and better,” CEO John Hess said. “Since the end of 2016, the estimate for recoverable resources on the block has quadrupled and we continue to see multi billion barrels of additional exploration potential on the block. We believe the investment opportunity in Guyana has the potential to be transformative for our company and create significant value for our shareholders for many years to come.”

Hess Corp was trading down on Monday, despite the news.

Guyana has been hailed as the world’s most up and coming oil hotspot, as Exxon, Tullow Oil, and Eco Atlantic made remarkable headway in recent years and months.

Exxon, for one, has had multiple finds in Guyana—also in the Stabroek block.

That Guyana—the small South American country sandwiched between troubled Venezuela and Suriname—has oil, and lots of it, is not new. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated oil reserves in the Guyana-Suriname basin somewhere around 15 billion barrels.

The Stabroek block alone is poised to lift Guyana from the status of one of the poorest countries on the continent to untold riches. Nevertheless, its newfound oil wealth may prove to be a stumbling block for the nation who is used to having next-to-nothing to mismanage.

Earlier estimates pegged oil revenues for Guyana at $700 million per year by the late 2020s just from Exxon’s finds alone.

Hess reported earlier that it did not expect to generate a positive cash flow offshore Guyana until about 2022, according to Oil and Gas Investor.

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National Oil Co for Guyana Would Be Disaster

(Stabroek News, 3.Jun.2018) – The creation of a National Oil Company (NOC) will be “a disaster” for this country warns former Government Advisor on Petroleum, Dr. Jan Mangal who says that Guyana should learn from the experiences of sister Caribbean countries, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

However, the government says that it has been advised by a number of international organizations, including Chatham House of the UK, that a NOC would be beneficial to this country.

“Here we go again with national oil companies in the Caribbean. Both Petrotrin (Trinidad) and Petrojam (Jamaica) are in the news because of corruption,” Mangal said as he urged Guyanese to not support a call for the establishment of one here.

“Guyanese: Please remember these two nations have much larger and better run economies than ours, and much stronger institutions. Hence imagine what will happen in Guyana, with our weaker capacity, if elements in our government and their private sector cohorts are allowed to create a national oil company with access to our oil. It will be a disaster,” he added, pointing to recent scandals in Jamaica and neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.

Recently, Jamaica’s Petrojam, which supplies a range of domestic, transportation and industrial petroleum products in that country, was hit with a number of allegations of corruption and victimisation. It saw questions surrounding the use of public funds snowballing in recent weeks during which there has been an outcry for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to act, the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper has reported.

Over in Trinidad and Tobago, a forensic audit report by the Canada-based Kroll Consulting Canada found that the state-owned Petrotrin paid a company, A&V, for oil produced between January and June of 2017, which it did not receive. In September, Petrotrin announced that it had launched an investigation into the reports of inconsistencies in the volumes reported from its exploration and production fields.

Mangal, whose contract as an Advisor to President David Granger ended in March of this year, has said that he will, “Outline the mechanism used by some oil companies and their local friends (in government and in the private sector) to defraud needy people in countries around the world, like in Guyana.”

But government says that although the establishment of a NOC is not in its immediate plans, there will be one formed sometime in the future and that it has been advised by several international organizations that it was the way to go.

“Government has been advised by several international organizations, foremost amongst which is Chatham House though Dr. Valerie Marcel, that the NOC is the direction we would be headed. We believe we will get there one day but it is not a matter that is on our list of immediate,” Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News when contacted.

Further, he added, “The rationale for a NOC is always that countries get a greater share of the revenue and at the same time gain valuable experience. We are keeping the idea alive but there is no discussion when.”

Other experts have also said that they believe that an NOC, if properly equipped with needed regulations and insulated from politics, would serve beneficially to the people of Guyana.

“State controlled oil major, is an absolute must! And the sooner, the better. NOCs control approximately 75% of the world’s oil market and 90% of the world’s oil reserves, evidence that having NOCs have become a normalcy. The advantages of an NOC are unlimited.  In recent years, NOCs have developed global reach and influence,” a former United States Department of Energy Manager, Dr. Vincent Adams had told this newspaper, in an interview earlier this year.

“With the proper contract arrangement with the NOC representing  the Government’s interest, the arrangement allows for personnel from the NOC working alongside their IOC counterparts and `learning by doing’, ultimately acquiring the ability to operate both within its own jurisdiction and abroad; thus, bringing revenues back to their home countries,” he added.

Vehicle

Most significantly, Adams believes, is that NOCs provide a vehicle for state participation and the ability to drive greater local content and capacity building in terms of directing the purchase of local goods and services. “The lessons learned from bauxite was that we were not ready for nationalization, since we failed to build the capacity to manage on our own upon nationalization. An NOC will give us that capability and strengthen our position in negotiations,” he asserted.

Using his country’s experience as a model, former Minister of Energy of Trinidad and Tobago, Kevin Ramnarine had also this year advised on an NOC but stressed that it must be insulated from political interference.

“This company’s board and management must be insulated from politics as is the case with Statoil (Norway) because if it is not, you will get a call to hire somebody’s nephew,” Ramnarine said.

“I would recommend that whatever state companies you form, it doesn’t have to be all, put part of the equity on the stock exchange,” he added.

He pointed to Norway’s Statoil and Russia’s Gazprom among other companies saying that Guyana can earn needed revenue through the establishment of such companies.

Pointing to the detriment of a state company influenced by politicians, as witnessed in his home country, he emphasized that before such a decision be taken here the companies must be removed from politics. “There is also the whole issue of political influence in state enterprises in Trinidad. When we look at the Norwegian company Statoil, their Board of Directors are independent, and for example the workers of Statoil get to vote on who should be a director…you begin to dilute the political influence in the company,” he posited.

The former People’s Partnership Energy Minister recommended that Guyana set up three state-owned companies. “I am going to recommend that Guyana sets up three state enterprises, one to participate in the upstream, alongside with companies like Exxon, one to focus on infrastructural development and one to focus on marketing of products… our new production-sharing contracts in Trinidad allow the ministry to market their own hydrocarbons,” he said.

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Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname: Challenges

(AIPN, 27.Jun.2018) – Petroleum consultants and other energy sector experts will discuss the challenges and opportunities in Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Suriname during a discussion in London.

The select group will consist of Kevin Ramnarine, former Trinidad & Tobago Energy Minister (2014-15); Energy Strategic Advisor and Lecturer Carlos Bellorin, Principal Consultant, IHS Markit; Lecturer, Queen Mary University and SciencesPo Ekpen Omondude, former Senior Economic Adviser, The Commonwealth Secretariat (2008-2018); Director, Bargate Advisory Limited.

DISCUSSION BRIEF

With the discovery of Liza-1 within the Stabroek Block by ExxonMobil and its partners in 2015 – and after years of frustrating exploratory results – all eyes have been on the Southern Caribbean. After Liza-1 and the seven discoveries that followed (including Longtail-1 announced on 20 June 2018), the Guyana-Suriname Basin has all but confirmed its massive potential. On neighbouring sides of Guyana, the E&P outlook has also changed after 2015.

To the east in Trinidad & Tobago – one of the more mature producers in the region – successive governments have tried to bring the island’s hydrocarbons industry to the attention of investors with limited success. Without any significant recent discoveries, Trinidad & Tobago will need to improve its performance and hydrocarbons regime. This will be necessary to replace reserves and increase production if it is to maintain its gas-linked economy and leadership as a gas producer.

To the west lies Suriname. After recent wells have come up dry, it needs (at least) a commercial discovery to finally confirm its long-coveted potential. Venezuela also plays a pivotal role in regards these two, smaller, nations: an embattled Venezuela is currently engaged in a high-profile boundary dispute with Guyana and could enter into a strategic partnership with Trinidad & Tobago over two key gas fields.

During this session, we will touch on the most critical issues from these three countries, including comments on their legal-fiscal regimes and political risk while looking forward to their challenges and opportunities. We will offer an on-the-ground view of one the hottest new deepwater provinces in the world.

WHEN: Thursday, June 28, 2018 (5pm – 8:30pm Europe/London)
COORDINATOR: Akin Gump
VENUE: Bishops Square
WHERE: London E1 6EG United Kingdom

Registration will be from 5:00 – 5:30 p.m., followed by the presentations and Q&A until 7:00 p.m. A networking reception with drinks and canapes will follow from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Online registration has been closed. On-site registration will be on a space available basis and is complimentary for all members and non-members. If you have any questions, please contact Carlos Bellorin at Carlos.Bellorin@ihsmarkit.com

***

ExxonMobil, Partners Spent $24 Mln in Guyana

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 22.Jun.2018) – US-based ExxonMobil Corporation and partners continue to invest in small-to-medium sized enterprises in Guyana.

Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil and project partners spent $24 million with more than 300 local suppliers in 2017 and opened the Centre for Local Business Development in the capital city of Georgetown to promote the establishment and growth of small- and medium-sized local businesses, the oil giant announced in an official statement.

Guyanese businesses, contractors and employees continue to play an important role in ExxonMobil’s operations in the country. ExxonMobil’s priorities in Guyana are focused on enabling local workforce and supplier development and collaborating with government to support the growth and success of its economy, both in the energy and non-energy sectors.
***

Uncertainty Looms Large Over LatAm Oil

(Oilprice.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, 20.Jun.2018) – While oil industry analysts and market participants are watching Venezuela closely for clues about how low its oil production will go, several other countries in Latin America are holding key elections this year, elections that will no doubt shape the countries’ short and medium-term oil policies. These developments could spell trouble for oil supply and oil investment in South America’s biggest crude-producing nations.

A populist leftist candidate pledging to undo energy reforms is widely expected to win Mexico’s presidential election in two weeks. There has been recent turmoil in Brazil’s fuel sector policies ahead of a wide-open presidential race for the October elections. A newly elected president in Colombia is vowing to amend a historic peace deal with the FARC rebels.

All these events add uncertainties to how politics will influence Latin American countries’ oil policies and investment climate for foreign oil companies, Paul Ruiz and Jena Merl write for The Fuse.

In Colombia, a conservative political newcomer, Iván Duque, won the presidential election this past weekend in the traditionally conservative country. The new president, however, has pledged to revise the 2016 deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels that put an end to 50 years of armed conflict. Duque wants to re-write the deal that guaranteed the rebels seats in Congress and allowed them to run in elections.

The new president, like the outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos, will have to face another rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN)—a Marxist guerrilla group that sabotages oil industry facilities to protest against foreign companies operating in Colombia. In January this year, Colombia suspended talks with ELN after bombings killed police officers. ELN has repeatedly attacked the second-largest oil pipeline in Colombia, Cano Limon-Covenas, causing oil spills and shutdowns.

Mexico is holding a presidential election on July 1, and a few weeks ahead of the vote, all polls point to populist leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador having a comfortable lead over other candidates. López Obrador pledges to roll back the landmark 2013 energy reform of outgoing president Enrique Peña Nieto, who opened Mexico’s oil sector to private investment for the first time in seven decades. The jury is still out as to whether López Obrador will backtrack entirely on the oil reforms, but uncertainties remain regarding the investment environment in the country—at least for this year.

Brazil is holding elections in October and the race is still wide open.

But in recent weeks, the country came to an economic standstill due to widespread truckers’ strikes over high fuel prices. President Michel Temer announced subsidies on diesel at the end of May, freezing prices for 60 days.

The recent turmoil in the country’s oil industry and renewed anxiety over political meddling in the energy sector add an uncertainty ahead of the election later this year. Pedro Parente, chief executive at state-run oil company Petrobras, resigned on June 1, after the strikes forced the government to cut diesel prices and after oil workers demanded that Brazil end the one-year-old policy to allow fuel prices be dictated by the market and international crude oil benchmarks.

Yet, some of the world’s biggest oil companies—including Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, and Equinor—bid aggressively in Brazil’s latest offshore bid round on June 7, snapping up acreage in three blocks in the coveted pre-salt layer.

Nevertheless, uncertainty over how Brazil will handle oil sector policies until and immediately after the October elections has increased.

Brazil is still expected to be one of the largest contributors to non-OPEC oil supply growth in the coming years. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Oil 2018 outlook from March, oil production growth from the United States, Brazil, Canada, and Norway “can keep the world well supplied, more than meeting global oil demand growth through 2020.”

According to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report, non-OPEC oil supply in the second half of this year is expected to increase by 2.0 million bpd year on year, with the United States leading the pack, contributing 1.4 million bpd to growth, followed by Canada and Brazil.

While uncertainties mount in the political shifts and oil policy choices in other Latin American countries, there’s only one uncertainty left for Venezuela—how fast production from the collapsing oil industry will sink to as low as 1 million bpd. Some analysts reckon the plunge to 1 million bpd is imminent.
***

ExxonMobil Announces 8th Find Offshore Guyana

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 20.Jun.2018) – Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corporation’s good luck continues in Guyana.

The oil giant announced it has made its eighth oil discovery offshore Guyana at the Longtail-1 well, creating the potential for additional resource development in the southeast area of the Stabroek Block, Exxon announced in an official statement.

ExxonMobil encountered approximately 256 feet (78 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoir. The well was safely drilled to 18,057 feet (5,504 meters) depth in 6,365 feet (1,940 meters) of water. The Stena Carron drillship commenced drilling on May 25, 2018.

“The Longtail discovery is in close proximity to the Turbot discovery southeast of the Liza field,” said ExxonMobil Exploration Company President Steve Greenlee, in the company statement. “Longtail drilling results are under evaluation. However, the combined estimated recoverable resources of Turbot and Longtail will exceed 500 million barrels of oil equivalent, and will contribute to the evaluation of development options in this eastern portion of the block.”

Second Exploration Vessel

ExxonMobil is currently making plans to add a second exploration vessel offshore Guyana in addition to the Stena Carron drillship, bringing its total number of drillships on the Stabroek Block to three. The new vessel will operate in parallel to the Stena Carron to explore the block’s numerous high-value prospects.

The Noble Bob Douglas is completing initial stages of development drilling for Liza Phase 1, for which ExxonMobil announced a funding decision in 2017. Phase 1 will consist of 17 wells connected to a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel designed to produce up to 120,000 barrels per day (b/d) of oil. First oil is expected in early 2020. Phase 2 concepts are similar to Phase 1 and involve a second FPSO with production capacity of 220,000 b/d. A third development, Payara, is planned to follow Liza Phase 2, according to ExxonMobil

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Partners in the Stabroek Block include ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (Operator, WI 45%. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. (WI 30%) and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited (WI 25%).
***

ExxonMobil Reconfirms March 2020 for First Guyana Oil

(Denis Chabrol, DemeraraWaves, 12.Jun.2018) – ExxonMobil on Tuesday reconfirmed that Guyana will pump up its first barrel of oil in March 2020, even as the Guyana government continued to fend off criticisms of the 2016 production sharing agreement.

Vice President of ExxonMobil Development Company, Lisa Walters said work was well advanced by several companies in Singapore, Brazil and the United States Gulf Coast to ensure that commercial oil production begins in less than two years. “We are on track for first oil in March of 2020,” she said. “In just a little over a year and a half, the Liza Destiny will deliver its first oil to its first tanker offshore,” she added.

ExxonMobil estimates that oil discoveries at Liza, Payara, Snoek and Turbot offshore Guyana total 3.2 billion barrels and would eventually lead to daily production of 500,000 barrels. ExxonMobil estimates that Liza Phase 1 will generate over US$7 billion in royalty and profit oil revenues for Guyana over the life of the project.

Walters said the drill-ship, Noble Bob Douglas, recently started drilling the production wells located at Liza more than 125 miles off the Demerara Coast. She said “all of the design work on the project is nearing completion” and “construction is well-underway worldwide” for the Floating Storage, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel named “Liza Destiny”. SBM Offshore has won the contract to construct that vessel, while TechnicFMC, and Saipem have been hired for sub-sea construction of the umbilical cords and flow-lines. Guyana Shorebase Inc was awarded the contract in June, 2017 for shore-base services and in August, 2017 the Noble Bob Douglas was hired for drilling services.

ExxonMobil’s Country Manager, Rod Henson also used the opportunity of the official start of the Liza Phase 1 Development Programme to show off that in the first quarter of 2018, over US$14 million were spent with Guyanese suppliers; together with its contractors ExxonMobil utilized 262 Guyanese registered suppliers, 227 of which are Guyanese owned.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman reiterated that the revised ExxonMobil Production Sharing Agreement has “the same or very similar contractual terms” as those Guyana has signed with other companies such as Anadarko Petroleum, Ratio, CGX, REPSOL, Ratio, Eco-Atlantic and Mid Atlantic.

“In that regard, they will enjoy the same rights and obligations as every other company that has been contracted by the government to explore and develop our hydrocarbons.

That they were the first to find a large deposit should no redefine their contractual terms or place them in any position less than that enjoyed prior to discovery. For government to do otherwise is not how responsible or how well-organised and governed States function,” she said.

The Minister of Natural Resources said the proceeds of Guyana’s oil production would be fairly shared among all Guyanese without discrimination as part of a process that would eventually lead to the removal of negative labels such as Third World, backwards, underdeveloped and developing from Guyana. “With the blessings that have been revealed, and are within our grasp, we purpose to develop a modern, peaceful and cohesive State-one in which every man, woman and child, without exception, reservation, and/or discrimination of any kind, is able to enjoy the full and equal benefits of the bounty we are about to be bestowed,” he said.
***

ExxonMobil Advances Offshore Guyana Liza Development

(ExxonMobil, 12.Jun.2018) – The Liza Phase 1 development continues to rapidly progress, with the commencement of development drilling offshore Guyana, ExxonMobil said.

Development drilling began in May for the first of 17 wells planned for Phase 1, laying the foundation for production startup in 2020. The company and its co-venturers have so far discovered estimated recoverable resources of more than 3.2 billion oil-equivalent barrels on the Stabroek Block.

“The work our teams have done in Guyana is remarkable,” said Liam Mallon, president of ExxonMobil Development Company. “We are well on our way to producing oil less than five years after our first discovery, which is well ahead of the industry average for similar projects. The Liza development and future projects will provide significant economic benefits to Guyana.”

Liza Phase 1 is expected to generate over $7 billion in royalty and profit oil revenues for Guyana over the life of the project. Additional benefits will accrue from other development projects now being planned. Liza Phase 1 involves the conversion of an oil tanker into a floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel named Liza Destiny, along with four undersea drill centers with 17 production wells. Construction of the FPSO and subsea equipment is under way in more than a dozen countries.

Liza Destiny will have a production capacity of 120,000 barrels of oil per day. A second FPSO with a capacity of 220,000 barrels per day is being planned as part of the Liza Phase 2 development, and a third is under consideration for the Payara development. Together, these three developments will produce more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day.

“Guyanese businesses, contractors and employees have been an essential element of our exploration, drilling and development progress,” Mallon said. “Our focus is on enabling local workforce and supplier development, and collaborating with the government to support the growth and success of Guyana’s new energy industry.”

About 50 percent of ExxonMobil’s employees, contractors and subcontractors are Guyanese, a number that will continue to grow as operations progress. ExxonMobil spent about $24 million with more than 300 local suppliers in 2017, and opened the Centre for Local Business Development in Georgetown, Guyana, to promote the establishment and growth of small- and medium-sized local businesses. The centre has enabled access to training and capacity-building support for more than 275 local businesses.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.

***

The Insignificance of Venezuela’s 342-Year R/P Ratio

(Energy Analytics Institute, Pietro D. Pitts, 24.May.2018) – Venezuela’s reserves-to-production or R/P ratio was a remarkable 342 times in 2016 based on reserves of 300.9 billion barrels and production of 2.41 million barrels per day (MMb/d), according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

Today, in a best-case scenario, Venezuela’s R/P ratio could reach 550 times assuming no decline in reserves but a 38% drop in production to 1.5 MMb/d. Stated another way, Venezuela has enough reserves to last for 550 years, up 61% from 2016. In a presumed worst case scenario, if reserves were to declined for numerous reasons by 10% to 271 billion barrels with the same production of 1.5 MMb/d, Venezuela would still have enough reserves to last for 495 years, up 45% from 2016.

When compared to a Reuters’ peer group (comprised of Exxon, BP, Chevron, Total, Eni, Shell, and Equinor, the former Statoil – see chart above) with a combined R/P ratio of 80, Venezuela’s R/P ratio is still a whopping 7x higher than the seven-company peer group.

For what it’s worth, we know reserves are worth nothing in the ground unless they are produced. Maybe it’s correct and better to focus on reserve quality versus quantity but that still doesn’t drive me from my most important point in the case of Venezuela, a country with a lot of potential, but many more wasted opportunities.

Just think what will happen to Venezuela’s R/P ratio as the denominator approaches zero.
***

Exxon Defends Guyana Deal Amid Criticism, Seeks Quick Production

(Seeking Alpha, Carl Surran, 1.May.2018) – Exxon Mobil defends its oil production contract with Guyana after the International Monetary Fund recommended the country rewrite its tax laws to increase its share of profitable oil and close out loopholes.

“We wouldn’t see any need to renegotiate,” says Erik Oswald, XOM’s VP for exploration in the Americas. ‘The experts are saying there’s nothing unusual or strange about the 2016 contract. [It’s a] middle of the road average contract” for a frontier country, citing studies by Wood Mackenzie and Rystad Energy.

Guyana has become a critical area for XOM, which is struggling to stem production declines across its global business; the company’s deepwater discoveries there are enormous and highly profitable, as breakeven costs including taxes are only ~$26/bbl vs. current Brent prices of ~$75/bbl.

Oswald says a dry hole drilled recently, only the second among seven successes, hasn’t dimmed XOM’s view of Guyana’s potential, as plenty of “headroom” remains for the discovery to increase beyond the 3.2B barrels already found.

“The most important thing… is this is production coming out super quickly,” Oswald says. “We’re going to get real high quality, extremely profitably production, early 2020. That’s a reasonable target.”
***

Exxon Mobil: Second Well has no Commercial Quantities of Oil

(Asianet-Pakistan, 28.Apr.2018) – ‘Unfortunately, the well did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons. Exploration wells come with a certain amount of risk and this is particularly true in frontier areas like Guyana. Success is not guaranteed,’ the local office of ExxonMobil said in a statement.

The well is the second one to turn up dry out of the eight wells that were drilled in the Stabroek Block area so far.

ExxonMobil’s Vice President and Secretary, Jeff Woodbury, who made the announcement, said ‘the Soribrum well reached total depth this week but failed to encounter commercial quantities of hyrdrocarbons’.

The company said that it began drilling the Sorubim well on April 3 and that the drill ship, Bob Douglas, will complete this well and then move to begin drilling the Liza Phase 1 wells.

Woodbury said additional drilling is planned later this year as ‘we continue to explore the full potential of the Stabroek Block’.

The company said the Stena Carron drill ship will continue to explore and evaluate other areas of the block. The Stena Carron is currently drilling the Liza 5 well, which will likely be followed by a new prospect, called Long Tail.
***

Dominican Republic to Join Caribbean Energy Rush

(Bloomberg, Ezra Fieser, 5.Mar.2018) – The Dominican Republic expects to draw interest from energy titans BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. when it opens the country to natural gas and oil exploration for the first time later this month, joining a push by governments across the Caribbean to develop energy production.

The government plans to open two land blocks for oil exploration and two offshore blocks for natural gas exploratory drilling by the end of March, said Energy and Mining Minister Isa Conde in an interview in Santo Domingo. An Exxon spokeswoman said in an email that the company does not comment on future business plans. BP did not respond to an email seeking comment.

“This is completely virgin territory for us,” Conde said. “But we would not be going forward if we had not received assurances from international companies and investors that there was substantial interest.’’

Developing the industry would give the nation of 11 million another source of foreign exchange earnings and allow it to cut its fuel import bill, Conde said. Although few Caribbean islands have developed significant commercial production outside of Trinidad & Tobago, a top exporter of liquefied natural gas in the Americas, the region is rapidly drawing interest from energy companies.

Exxon is leading a group of companies developing 6.6-million-acres in Guyana’s waters that could make the country one of Latin America’s largest oil producers within a decade. That discovery has spurred interest in neighboring Suriname, while the government in the Bahamas is also opening offshore areas for exploration. In Jamaica, CGG GeoConsulting and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica said last month they had discovered oil seeps in two separate parts of the island.

Seismic study

The Dominican government does not have an estimate of the reserves and Conde said any production could be years away. A two-year seismic study found six areas that potentially hold light and heavy crude or natural gas. If the areas prove commercially viable, the government will likely demand production contracts in which it continues to own the land, he said.

The $72 billion economy is forecast to grow 4.5 percent this year, the most in Latin America after Panama, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

***

ExxonMobil Announces Seventh Oil Discovery Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 28.Feb.2018) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced its seventh oil discovery offshore Guyana, following drilling at the Pacora-1 exploration well.

ExxonMobil encountered approximately 65 feet (20 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoir. The well was safely drilled to 18,363 feet (5,597 meters) depth in 6,781 feet (2,067 meters) of water. Drilling commenced on Jan. 29, 2018.

“This latest discovery further increases our confidence in developing this key area of the Stabroek Block,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “Pacora will be developed in conjunction with the giant Payara field, and along with other phases, will help bring Guyana production to more than 500,000 barrels per day.”

The Pacora-1 well is located approximately four miles west of the Payara-1 well, and follows previous discoveries on the Stabroek Block at Liza, Payara, Liza Deep, Snoek, Turbot and Ranger.

Following completion of the Pacora-1 well, the Stena Carron drillship will move to the Liza field to drill the Liza-5 well and complete a well test, which will be used to assess concepts for the Payara development. ExxonMobil announced project sanctioning for the Liza phase one development in June 2017. Following Liza-5, the Stena Carron will conduct additional exploration and appraisal drilling on the block.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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Shell Made Mistake Pulling Out of Guyana basin

(CaribbeanLife, Bert Wilkinson, 31.Jan.2018) — Now that Guyana’s oil and gas basin has been deemed as one of the hottest and most exciting prospects in the world, Shell Oil has to be regretting its decision to withdraw as an investment partner with United States giant ExxonMobil, which has so far drilled six successful wells offshore Guyana worth about 3.2 billion barrels of oil, officials said Monday, Jan. 29.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said Exxon’s mid 2015 “world class” oil and gas find has clearly taken away all the fears and apprehensions about wasting investor dollars exploring offshore Guyana and Shell is one company which has missed out on the chance to cash in on one of the world’s largest oil finds in more than a decade. Exxon plans to begin producing about 120,000 barrels of oil daily in early 2020. This will make Guyana the largest producer in the Caribbean Community. The others are Trinidad, Suriname and Barbados.

“Shell was with Exxon on the Stabroek block and pulled out. They now maybe rue the day that they ever did that. Now, Shell has signaled that it wants to come back to Guyana,” Trotman noted, saying that all the major oil and gas companies in the world are either vying for their own offshore blocs or buying into smaller companies which have deep water concessions near Exxon’s highly successful offshore fields.

Exxon spokeswoman Kimberly Brasington Monday confirmed that Shell was the original partner with Exxon in the six million acre-plus concession area after Exxon had signed its exploration agreement with Guyana back in 1999 “but chose to pull out. They made the decision not to take the risk. We therefore had to go out there and look for new partners in Hess Oil and Nexen (of China). Yes that was indeed the case,” she said.

Geology and Mines Commissioner Newell Dennison said Shell pulled out about a decade ago and has been sending signals about coming back into the basin but he has seen no paper work regarding this so far.

Exxon and its partners plan to drill 17 wells in the first phase of their offshore venture and up to 40 others ion phase two. The company has already filed paperwork for permission to begin preparations for phase two of its offshore operations and has begun public consultations about this phase.

Spain’s Repsol, Tullow Oil of the United Kingdom, Chevron, Brazil’s Petrobras, Eni of Italy, TOTAL of France and British Petroleum are among big oil players all vying for participation in the country’s fledgling oil and gas sector.

“These companies are only expressing interest because ExxonMobil has de-risked the basin. Zero from zero is nothing. If you have oil and no one is troubling it, then it is worth zero. The oil may be worth a lot, but only if it is produced. We are moving to production, but it took ExxonMobil to find what others have been looking for,” Trotman said.

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ExxonMobil Announces Sixth Oil Discovery Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 5.Jan.2018) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced positive results from its Ranger-1 exploration well, marking ExxonMobil’s sixth oil discovery offshore Guyana since 2015.
The Ranger-1 well discovery adds to previous world-class discoveries at Liza, Payara, Snoek, Liza Deep and Turbot, which are estimated to total more than 3.2 billion recoverable oil-equivalent barrels.

ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. began drilling the Ranger-1 well on Nov. 5, 2017 and encountered approximately 230 feet (70 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing carbonate reservoir. The well was safely drilled to 21,161 feet (6,450 meters) depth in 8,973 feet (2,735 meters) of water.

“This latest success operating in Guyana’s significant water depths illustrates our ultra deepwater and carbonate exploration capabilities,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “This discovery proves a new play concept for the 6.6 million acre Stabroek Block, and adds further value to our growing Guyana portfolio.”

Following completion of the Ranger-1 well, the Stena Carron drillship will move to the Pacora prospect, 4 miles from the Payara discovery. Additional exploration drilling is planned on the Stabroek Block for 2018, including potential appraisal drilling at the Ranger discovery.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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ExxonMobil Announces Fifth Discovery Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 5.Oct.2017) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced it made a fifth new oil discovery after drilling the Turbot-1 well offshore Guyana.

Turbot is ExxonMobil’s latest discovery to date in the country, adding to previous discoveries at Liza, Payara, Snoek and Liza Deep. Following completion of the Turbot-1 well, the Stena Carron drillship will move to the Ranger prospect. An additional well on the Turbot discovery is being planned for 2018.

ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. began drilling the Turbot-1 well on Aug. 14, 2017 and encountered a reservoir of 75 feet (23 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone in the primary objective. The well was safely drilled to 18,445 feet (5,622 meters) in 5,912 feet (1,802 meters) of water on Sept. 29, 2017. The Turbot-1 well is located in the southeastern portion of the Stabroek Block, approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the southeast of the Liza phase one project.

“The results from this latest well further illustrate the tremendous potential we see from our exploration activities offshore Guyana,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “ExxonMobil, along with its partners, will continue to further evaluate opportunities on the Stabroek Block.”

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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ExxonMobil Announces Successful Payara-2 Well Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 25.Jul.2017) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced it has discovered additional oil in the Payara reservoir offshore Guyana, increasing the total Payara discovery to approximately 500 million oil-equivalent barrels.

These positive well results increase the estimated gross recoverable resource for the Stabroek Block to between 2.25 billion oil-equivalent barrels and 2.75 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

The well was successfully drilled by ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited and encountered 59 feet (18 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone in the Payara field.

It was safely drilled to 19,068 feet (5,812 meters) in approximately 7,000 feet (2,135 meters) of water. The well is only 12 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of the recently funded Liza phase 1 project on the Stabroek Block, which is approximately 130 miles offshore Guyana.

“Payara-2 confirms the second giant field discovered in Guyana,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “Payara, Liza and the adjacent satellite discoveries at Snoek and Liza Deep will provide the foundation for world class oil developments and deliver substantial benefits to Guyana. We are committed to continue to evaluate the full potential of the Stabroek Block.”

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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ExxonMobil Acquires Interest in Acreage Offshore Suriname

(Exxon Mobil, 13.Jul.2017) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced that its subsidiary ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Suriname B.V., along with co-venturers Hess and Statoil, signed a production sharing contract for Block 59 with Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname N.V., the national oil company of Suriname. The block adds significant acreage to ExxonMobil’s operated portfolio in the Guyana-Suriname Basin.

Deepwater Block 59 is in water depths ranging from nearly 2,000 meters to 3,600 meters, located approximately 190 miles (305 kilometers) offshore Suriname’s capital city, Paramaribo. The block is 2.8 million acres, or 4,430 square miles, and shares a maritime border with Guyana, where ExxonMobil is the operator of three offshore blocks, including the world-class Liza field discovered by ExxonMobil in 2015.

“We look forward to working with Staatsolie and our co-venturers to evaluate the potential of this new acreage,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “Adding this block enhances our leading global deepwater portfolio.”

Suriname represents a new country for ExxonMobil’s upstream business. The company has investments throughout South America. Following contract signing, the co-venturers are preparing to begin exploration activities, including acquisition and analysis of seismic data.

ExxonMobil and consortium partners Hess and Statoil each hold a third of the interest in the block. ExxonMobil is the operator.
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ExxonMobil Makes Final Decision Regarding Liza Development

(Exxon Mobil, 16.Jun.2017) – Exxon Mobil Corporation said it has made a final investment decision to proceed with the first phase of development for the Liza field, one of the largest oil discoveries of the past decade, located offshore Guyana.

The company also announced positive results from the Liza-4 well, which encountered more than 197 feet (60 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs, which will underpin a potential Liza Phase 2 development. Gross recoverable resources for the Stabroek block are now estimated at 2 billion to 2.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels, which includes Liza and other successful exploration wells on Liza Deep, Payara and Snoek.

The Liza Phase 1 development includes a subsea production system and a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel designed to produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day. Production is expected to begin by 2020, less than five years after discovery of the field. Phase 1 is expected to cost just over $4.4 billion, which includes a lease capitalization cost of approximately $1.2 billion for the FPSO facility, and will develop approximately 450 million barrels of oil.

“We’re excited about the tremendous potential of the Liza field and accelerating first production through a phased development in this lower cost environment,” said Liam Mallon, president, ExxonMobil Development Company. “We will work closely with the government, our co-venturers and the Guyanese people in developing this world-class resource that will have long-term and meaningful benefits for the country and its citizens.”

The Liza Phase 1 development can provide significant benefits to Guyana, including jobs during installation and operations, workforce training, local supplier development and government revenues to fund infrastructure, social programs and services.

The development received regulatory approval from the government of Guyana.

The Liza field is approximately 190 kilometers offshore in water depths of 1,500 to 1,900 meters. Four drill centers are envisioned with a total of 17 wells, including eight production wells, six water injection wells and three gas injection wells.

The Liza field is part of the Stabroek Block, which measures 6.6 million acres, or 26,800 square kilometers. Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds a 45 percent interest in the block.

Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds a 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent.

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is continuing exploration activities and operates three blocks offshore Guyana – Stabroek, Canje and Kaieteur. Drilling of the Payara-2 well on the Stabroek block is expected to commence in late June and will also test a deeper prospect underlying the Payara oil discovery.
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ExxonMobil Announces New Oil Discovery Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 30.Mar.2017) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced positive results on the Snoek well offshore Guyana, confirming a new discovery on the Stabroek Block. Drilling targeted similar aged reservoirs as encountered in previous discoveries at Liza and Payara.

“The latest discovery at Snoek demonstrates the continued success we have achieved in this technically complex play, which is just part of the significant exploration province offshore Guyana,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company.

ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. commenced drilling of the Snoek well on Feb. 22, 2017 and encountered 82 feet (25 meters) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. The well was safely drilled to 16,978 feet (5,175 meters) in 5,128 feet (1,563 meters) of water on March 18. The Snoek well is located in the southern portion of the Stabroek Block, approximately 5 miles (9 km) to the southeast of the 2015 Liza-1 discovery.

Following completion of the Snoek well, the Stena Carron drillship has moved back to the Liza area to drill the Liza-4 well.

“As we continue to evaluate the full potential of the broader Stabroek Block, we are also taking the necessary steps to ensure the safe, cost-efficient and responsible development of this world-class resource, which can provide long-term, sustainable benefits to the people of Guyana,” said Greenlee.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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Guyana’s Initial Oil Output to Surpass Trinidad

(Energy Analytics Institute, Pietro D. Pitts, 2.Mar.2017) – Sleepy Guyana is gearing up to surpass twin-island nation Trinidad and Tobago in terms of oil production.

Production plans by Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corporation at the promising Stabroek Block offshore Guyana will assist the small country to initially produce more oil than its Caribbean neighbor Trinidad, which has been producing oil for over a century.

Exxon — which plans to make an investment decision later this year regarding finds at the Stabroek Block, including the Liza, Liza deep and Payara wells – expects production of 100,000 barrels per day in 2020 in the initial phase using a Float Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit, said Jeff Woodbury, Exxon Mobil Vice President of Investor Relations during a conference call on January 31, 2017.

“Guyana is to become the newest petrostate. It has two neighbors from which to learn what to do, Trinidad, and what not to do, Venezuela,” Francisco J. Monaldi, Ph.D. and Fellow in Latin American Energy Policy & Lecturer in Energy Economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy wrote in a twitter post.

The Stabroek Block covers 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). The operator of the block is Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited with a 45 percent interest. Other partners in the block include: Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. with a 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited with a 25 percent interest.

Trinidad produced an average of around 72,000 barrels per day in the eleven months between January and November of 2016, according to data published in a bulletin by the country’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries.

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Guyana Ministry Clarifies Huffington Article

(Guyana Ministry of Natural Resources, 19.Jan.2017) – The Ministry of Natural Resources would like to clarify for the benefit of the public an article by online media outlet The Huffington Post published on January 17, 2017.

The article, headlined ‘Conflict: Tillerson would Write the Rules for Exxon’s Major Oil Find in Guyana’ inaccurately states that the United States’ Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative (EGCI) is “involved in writing oil and gas regulations for the country of Guyana, where Exxon just announced another major oil find.”

There is no truth to the assertion in the article that the EGCI will be playing any part in writing Guyana’s oil governance laws, or any laws for that matter. The Commonwealth Secretariat is the lead agency supporting Guyana in preparing a suite of legislation for the oil and gas industry.

The opportunity is taken to indicate that while the EGCI has been lending support to Guyana for the past six years in the area of capacity building to manage eventual oil and gas revenues, it is in no way writing oil and gas laws or regulations for this country.

It is important to note that this relationship between Guyana and the EGCI programme in Guyana predates the Ministry of Natural Resources and the current Coalition Administration as it commenced in 2010. Indeed, the Government of Guyana has had many engagements with the officials of the United States’ Department of State as part of the capacity building initiative. However, the EGCI programme has only been partially implemented through a series of scoping studies that were conducted in 2016.

The EGCI can be a useful programme once implemented and is but one in a raft of assistance measures that Guyana is receiving to bolster and in some cases build capacity in oil and gas governance.

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ExxonMobil Success in Guyana Continues

(Energy Analytics Institute, Piero Stewart, 16.Jan.2017) – ExxonMobil’s successful drilling streak continues in Guyana as the Irving, Texas-based company announced positive results from its second offshore well Payara-1, also located on the Stabroek Block.

The well, located just 16 kilometers from the earlier game-changing Liza discovery, encountered over 29 meters of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.

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ExxonMobil Announces New Oil Discoveries Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 12.Jan.2017) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced positive results from its Payara-1 well offshore Guyana. Payara is ExxonMobil’s second oil discovery on the Stabroek Block and was drilled in a new reservoir. The Payara-1 well targeted similar aged reservoirs that were proven successful at the company’s Liza discovery.

“This important discovery further establishes the area as a significant exploration province,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “We look forward to working with the government and our co-venturers to continue evaluating broader exploration potential on the block and the greater Liza area.”

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.

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. This additional resource is currently being evaluated for development in conjunction with the world-class Liza discovery.

“These latest exploration successes are examples of ExxonMobil’s technological capabilities in ultra-deepwater environments, which will enable effective development of the resource for the benefit of the people of Guyana and our shareholders,” Greenlee said.

Drilling on Payara began on Nov. 12 with initial total depth reached on Dec. 2. Two sidetracks have been drilled to rapidly evaluate the discovery, and a well test is underway to further evaluate the successful well results. The well data will be analyzed in the coming months to better determine the full resource potential.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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ExxonMobil Awards Key Contracts for Liza in Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 20.Dec.2016) – Exxon Mobil Corporation subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), announced that it has awarded contracts to SBM Offshore for a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, a key step in moving the Liza field toward first production.

Under the contracts, SBM Offshore will perform front end engineering and design for the FPSO, and, subject to a final investment decision on the project in 2017, will construct, install and operate the vessel.

“Liza development activities are steadily progressing, and we’re excited to reach this important milestone,” said Neil Duffin, president of ExxonMobil Development Company. “We look forward to working with the government of Guyana to develop its valuable resources, which have the potential to provide long-term, sustainable benefits to the country.”

ExxonMobil submitted an application for a production license and its initial development plan for the Liza field in early December. The development plan, submitted to the Guyana Ministry of Natural Resources, includes development drilling, operation of the FPSO, and subsea, umbilical, riser and flowline systems.

The Liza field has a potential recoverable resource estimate in excess of 1 billion oil-equivalent barrels and is located in the Stabroek block approximately 120 miles (193 kilometers) offshore Guyana.

The Stabroek block currently comprises 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is the operator and holds a 45 percent interest in the Stabroek block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds a 30 percent interest, and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds a 25 percent interest.
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Big Oil Flocks To Argentina As Permian Land Prices Skyrocket

(Oilprice.com, Charles Kennedy, 15.Sep.2016) — The Permian Basin has become so hot that some oil companies are starting to stay away, instead looking at frontiers that are less picked over.

BP is one such company. The British oil giant’s CEO Bob Dudley said that land in the Permian has become too expensive, and instead he is looking to expand operations in Argentina, where the vast Vaca Muerta shale basin offers appetizing opportunity.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV from Buenos Aires, Dudley said BP is planning on acquiring more assets in the Vaca Muerta. And it isn’t just the “enormous potential” from the oil and gas reserves in the shale basin, but also the friendly policy put forth by the new Argentine government led by President Mauricio Macri. “I’m really encouraged by what I see,” Dudley said. “There’s a lot of future here.” BP has a joint venture with Bridas Corp. – BP owns 60 percent of Pan American Energy LLC and Bridas controls the other 40 percent. BP will expand its presence in Argentina through this JV.

Argentina is quickly becoming one of the few countries that has achieved shale development outside of North America. One of the biggest incentives the government has offered is regulated oil prices, set at levels higher than the international price. Several of BP’s peers are already drilling in the Vaca Muerta, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell.

The state-owned YPF said that it would need investments totaling about $200 billion to fully exploit the Vaca Muerta.

Exxon said earlier this year that it might spend more than $10 billion in Argentina, building on several pilot projects. The investments would span decades. “I am very encouraged by the changes that have occurred here in Argentina, with the change in government,” Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson said in June. More and more companies are starting to build up their presence in Argentina.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, land prices are shooting through the roof. SM Energy recently spent more than $39,000 per acre for land in the Permian, which some are calling the “hottest zip codes in the industry.” That is pricing out some companies and forcing many to look elsewhere. With West Texas saturated with drillers, Argentina stands to benefit.

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Energy Analytics Institute (EAI): #LatAmNRG

Next Hot Spot for Shale Drilling? Argentina

(CNN Money, 28.Jul.2016) – Argentina has exceptional hydrocarbon reserves, but politics has greatly affected its development.

The economy in Argentina is best described as a “pendulum”, going from loose economic policies in the ’80s to Washington-consensus liberalisation in the ’90s and back again under the Kirchner regime.

Since the current president Macri took office in December 2015, he has been reversing the policies of his predecessor and has focused on boosting the economy with free-market measures through eliminating currency controls and lowering utility subsidies.

In March, the government also announced a $7.50 per barrel subsidy on exported oil while Brent remained below $47.50 per barrel to attract foreign investment.

Argentina’s recoverable shale oil reserves are estimated at 27 billion barrels and hold the third largest shale gas and fourth-largest shale oil reserves in the world. Appearing in the spotlight is the Vaca Muerta formation with technically recoverable shale gas of 308 trillion cubic feet and 16 billion barrels of oil.

The Vaca Muerta Shale spans across four provinces – Neuquén, La Pampa, Mendoza and Rio Negro and is almost double the size of the Eagle Ford shale.

Current production from the Vaca Muerta formation is about 50,000 bbl/day, an amount that is expected to double by 2018. IHS Energy research indicates that the Vaca Muerta is characterized by favourable traits such as thick, high-quality, organic-rich shale, similar to the Permian Basin.

While the American consumer basks in low oil prices, the Argentinean consumer is helping to fund the oil industry. Government regulated oil prices were imposed to protect citizens from market fluctuations, although consumers currently face the reverse effect by paying a premium on Brent and WTI.

For 2016 the price of oil in Argentina is frozen at $67.50, with gas prices of $7.50—almost 4 times that of the United States.

The recent nationalization of YPF has opened doors for foreign investments, making Argentina’s oil industry more attractive. Chevron (CVX) has decreased drilling costs in Vaca Muerta by 20% this year. Chevron’s Argentinian drilling costs dropped from $14 million per well to $11.2 million per well in the last three months of 2015.

One major source of savings stemmed from the discovery of a sand deposit in Chubut enabling YPF to eliminate the use of imported sand. Sand is the main ingredient in hydraulic fracturing treatments, which are essential in the completion process in shale oil and gas wells.

In the current environment of low oil prices, Argentina’s regulated crude prices combined with 27 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 802 trillion cubic feet of gas is one of the most attractive ventures for oil companies.

While the U.S. experienced severe cuts in spending by as much as 40%, YPF increased spending by about 4%.

In 2013, Chevron and YPF signed a $1.6 billion exploration deal to develop tight shale oil and gas resources through drilling 132 wells. Dow Chemical Company (DOW) and Shell Argentina followed shortly thereafter by drilling 16 horizontal natural gas wells and a $500 million investment.

YPF also signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysian oil company PETRONAS in a $550 million pilot project in 2014. Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas producer also engaged in a confidential deal for the development of the Vaca Muerta field.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) has announced the initiation a $250 million pilot project, which if successful would lead to the further development and an excess of $10 billion in additional investment.

Although Argentina is becoming an increasingly attractive investment for oil companies, Vaca Muerta remains vastly untapped. Analysts estimate that YPF is expected to need up to $200 billion to fully exploit the formation.

The rich geological characteristics of Vaca Muerta is only a piece of the puzzle, the recent change in government and the economic policy reforms have set the stage for a more favourable business environment in Argentina.

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ExxonMobil’s 2nd Well Offshore Guyana Confirms Oil

(Exxon Mobil, 30.Jun.2016) – Exxon Mobil Corporation said that drilling results from the Liza-2 well, the second exploration well in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana, confirm a world-class discovery with a recoverable resource of between 800 million and 1.4 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

“We are excited by the results of a production test of the Liza-2 well, which confirms the presence of high-quality oil from the same high-porosity sandstone reservoirs that we saw in the Liza-1 well completed in 2015,” said Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company. “We, along with our co-venturers, look forward to continuing a strong partnership with the government of Guyana to further evaluate the commercial potential for this exciting prospect.”

The Liza wells are located in the Stabroek block approximately 120 miles (193 kilometers) offshore Guyana. Data from the successful Liza-2 well test is being assessed.

The Liza-2 well was drilled by ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd., approximately 2 miles (3.3 km) from the Liza-1 well. The Liza-2 well encountered more than 190 feet (58 meters) of oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs in Upper Cretaceous formations. The well was drilled to 17,963 feet (5,475 meters) in 5,551 feet (1,692 meters) of water.

“This exploration success demonstrates the strength of our long-term investment approach, as well as our technology leadership in ultra, deepwater environments,” said Greenlee.

The Stabroek block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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ExxonMobil Sells Share of Chalmette Refining, LLC in Louisiana

(Exxon Mobil, 18.Jun.2016) – Exxon Mobil Corporation has reached an agreement with PBF Energy Inc. for the sale and purchase of its 50 percent interest in Chalmette Refining, LLC in Chalmette, Louisiana.

PBF Energy will purchase 100 percent of Chalmette Refining, LLC, which is a joint venture between affiliates of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) and ExxonMobil.

The agreement includes the Chalmette refinery and chemical production facilities near New Orleans, La. and the company’s 100 percent interests in MOEM Pipeline, LLC and 80 percent interest in each of Collins Pipeline Company and T&M Terminal Company. ExxonMobil operates Chalmette Refining, LLC and Mobil Pipeline Company, an ExxonMobil affiliate, operates the logistics infrastructure.

“This decision is the result of a strategic assessment of the site and how it fits with our large US Gulf Coast Refining portfolio,” said Jerry Wascom, president of ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Company.

“We regularly adjust our portfolio of assets through investment, restructuring, or divestment consistent with our overall global and regional business strategies,” said Wascom. “ExxonMobil remains committed to doing business in Louisiana through ongoing operations at the Baton Rouge refinery and chemical plants, the development and production of oil and natural gas resources, and sales of fuels and lubricants. All of these businesses are unaffected by this agreement.”

Subject to regulatory approval, change-in-control is anticipated to take place by the end of 2015. Details of the commercial agreements are proprietary.
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ExxonMobil Reports Significant Oil Discovery Offshore Guyana

(Exxon Mobil, 20.May.2016) – Exxon Mobil Corporation announced a significant oil discovery on the Stabroek Block, located approximately 120 miles offshore Guyana.

The well was drilled by ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd., and encountered more than 295 feet (90 meters) of high-quality oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. It was safely drilled to 17,825 feet (5,433 meters) in 5,719 feet (1,743 meters) of water. Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers).

“I am encouraged by the results of the first well on the Stabroek Block,” said Stephen M. Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “Over the coming months we will work to determine the commercial viability of the discovered resource, as well as evaluate other resource potential on the block.”

The well was spud on March 5, 2015. The well data will be analyzed in the coming months to better determine the full resource potential.

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. holds 45 percent interest. Hess Guyana Exploration Limited holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest.
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