Guyana: Exploration beyond Stabroek

21.09.22_Eco Guyanas Offshore Potential Map (1) (1)

Source: Eco Atlantic

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Since late 2020,  ExxonMobil has ventured further offshore to test the potential of the Kaeiteur and Canje blocks, in addition to continuing to drill in its prolific Stabroek block in Guyana. A programme of four wells, all drilled along a northwest-southeast trending line, is due to complete in the coming weeks as the final well, Sapote-1, approaches total depth (TD). Here we take a look at the results and examine what activity to expect in the search for hydrocarbons  beyond Stabroek in the region.

The current programme began with the drilling of Tanager-1 in the Kaieteur block, which, at over 7,600m, is the deepest well in the basin to date. The well encountered hydrocarbons in its upper cretaceous target, but the estimated gross contingent resources of 65.3mmbbl are not enough to support a standalone development. The oil in Tanager-1 was also reported to be heavier than seen in Liza, at 20o API compared to Liza’s 32o API.

ExxonMobil then moved to the Canje block to drill the other three wells in the programme. Although the majority of discoveries offshore Guyana have been in a slope environment, Canje contains prospects both on the slope and the basin floor and basin floor prospects have the potential to contain large hydrocarbon accumulations. Canje is also covered by two main source rocks, so reservoirs are filled before the hydrocarbons migrate up-dip to other blocks in the area.

The first well to be drilled in Canje was Bulletwood-1, which also encountered noncommercial hydrocarbons but confirmed the presence of the Guyana Suriname petroleum system in the block. ExxonMobil’s partners in the block were Total Energies, JHI Associates, in which Westmount Energy holds just under 8%, and Mid Atlantic Oil & Gas. After Bulletwood-1 was drilled, Eco Atlantic entered the block by acquiring a 6.4% interest in JHI, with an option to increase to 10%.

Bulletwood-1 was followed by the Jabillo-1 well, targeting the upper cretaceous in a basin floor fan, which again encountered noncommercial hydrocarbons. Despite these results from the first three wells, ExxonMobil has been sufficiently encouraged to apply for environmental permits to drill 12 exploration wells in Canje, and these are expected to support a programme of three to four wells a year from 2022.

The final well of the programme, Sapote-1, was spudded in late August 2021 and should reach TD in October. The well is targeting stacked targets in the upper cretaceous and will test a different play in the southwest corner of the block. The prospect is 50km north of the Haimara gas condensate discovery and 60km northwest of the Maka Central-1 discovery in Block 58 in Suriname.

Like ExxonMobil, Block 58 operator Apache is looking to test the potential further offshore and will step beyond its existing discoveries, in line with the Kaieteur and Canje block wells, with its next exploration well Bonboni-1.  This should have already started drilling, although this has not been confirmed by the company.

Back in Guyana, the first well to be drilled in the Corentyne block, Kawa-1, was spudded in August this year. Operator CGX Energy and partner Frontera Energy are targeting light oil  stacked targets in slope fan complexes. The well is located in the northeast corner of the block and is expected to reach TD in the first half of December 2021.

Finally, a decision on drilling in the Orinduik block is expected to be taken imminently by the joint venture partners. Operator Tullow, with partners TOQAP, a company jointly owned by Total Energies and Qatar Petroleum, and Eco Atlantic are reviewing and incorporating the Carapa light oil discovery in the neighbouring Kanuku block into their models, as any future Orinduik exploration will focus on the cretaceous.

In summary, interest in Guyana beyond Stabroek remains high and an ongoing programme of wells is expected to continue in the near term in the search for commercial hydrocarbons in this exploration hotspot.

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