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ExxonMobil plans up to 10 FPSOs to develop Guyana's Stabroek block

Highlights

Five units to be in operation by 2026

Block holds more than 8 bil boe reserves

Bacalhau field to be priority in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro — ExxonMobil could install as many as 10 floating production, storage and offloading vessels, or FPSOs, at the Stabroek block off the coast of Guyana, the company's manager for deepwater projects said Dec. 1.

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"We expect to have five FPSOs in operation in Guyana by 2026 and see the potential for a total of seven to 10 FPSOs," ExxonMobil's Jayme Meier told the Rio Oil & Gas 2020 digital conference.

Development of the Stabroek block is one of Latin America's biggest offshore projects, with estimated recoverable resources of more than 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent rivaling the largest offshore finds in Brazil's subsalt frontier. The discovery also generated interest in other offshore areas along South America's so-called equatorial margin. But the environmental sensitivity of the region, especially close to recently discovered reefs near the mouth of the Amazon River, has also created obstacles to further development.

Work on the project has continued despite the coronavirus pandemic, with ExxonMobil and its development partners drilling wells, running supply vessels and pumping oil without a single coronavirus case, Meier said.

The Liza field pumped first oil in December 2019, with the FPSO Liza Destiny anchored about 190 kilometers offshore in waters about 1,500-1,900 meters deep, Meier said. The SBM Offshore-operated FPSO Destiny has installed capacity to pump 120,000 b/d.

Two additional FPSOs will be added in 2022 and 2024, with the FPSO Liza Unity installed at Liza in 2022 and the FPSO Prosperity installed at the Payara Field. Each of the FPSOs has installed capacity to produce 220,000 b/d.

Brazil ramp-up

ExxonMobil also expects to ramp up work in Brazil, where the company has a portfolio of 28 blocks in the Campos, Santos and Sergipe-Alagoas basins. The company operates 17 of the blocks, which were all purchased at concession and production-sharing auctions held in 2017-2019. ExxonMobil previously held stakes in Santos Basin blocks holding subsalt prospects in the early 2010s, but the company eventually left Brazil after making no commercial discoveries.

Most of the exploration and production blocks that ExxonMobil acquired in the Campos and Santos basins contain subsalt targets, but will be developed under the concession regime that allows oil companies to own the oil and pay royalties on output. Two exploration wells are expected to be drilled in the recently acquired Campos Basin acreage in 2021, but the company's first priority will be the Bacalhau field development, Meier said.

"We are optimistic about future developments in Brazil, with Bacalhau being our first project," Meier said.

Bacalhau, which is operated by Norway's Equinor, is estimated to hold about 2 billion boe of recoverable reserves. Equinor and its partners expect to make a final investment decision on the first phase of Bacalhau's development in the first half of 2021. First oil is expected in 2024 via an FPSO capable of producing 220,000 b/d, which would be the largest yet installed offshore Brazil.

Equinor holds a 40% operating stake in Bacalhau, while ExxonMobil owns a 40% minority share and Portugal's Galp Energia has the remaining 20%.