US-owned ExxonMobil is said to be examining bids from floater contractors aiming to supply the company with a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel for the fast-track development of its deepwater Liza project off Guyana.
Industry sources said that at least five players are battling to land a contract to lease a “vessel of opportunity” to handle 60,000 barrels per day of crude or more, plus significant quantities of gas. First oil is being targeted as soon as 2018, according to a report yesterday on upstreamonline.com.
The four-company group chasing the FPSO order, said sources, comprise Bluewater, BW Offshore, Modec, Saipem and SBM Offshore.
The news would spell good ones for Guyana after ExxonMobil announced the find back in May. It was the first major oil find for Guyana which has been heavily dependent on imported oil to meet energy and transportation needs.
However, neighbouring Venezuela has since revived its claims to Guyana’s territory, including the waters where ExxonMobil found the oil.
According to Upstreamonline.com, reporting on ExxonMobil’s plans, yesterday said that this early production system could be the forerunner of a full-field project, tentatively based on a larger FPSO with capacity in the range of 150,000 to 200,000 barrels per day (bpd).
However, industry sources cautioned that the US Company has not yet taken definite decisions on its preferred strategy for Liza, and that how it will move to full field development is not yet clear.
Nevertheless, ExxonMobil, is said to be enthused by the potential of Liza, a play-opening frontier wildcat which was completed in May.
“It’s a huge field,” said one source, adding that ExxonMobil thinks that this area “could be a second Angola.”
ExxonMobil contracted seismic player CGG to acquire what industry sources said was as much as 20,000 square kilometres of seismic data earlier this year, using two vessels and fast-tracked processing.
Despite the dearth of floater projects globally, the FPSO companies’ studies are said to have been partly funded by the ExxonMobil. These preliminary studies focused on an early production system but also, said one source, took in conceptual work on the potential full-field scheme.
Pre-FEED work began early this summer, with documents submitted in mid-September.
ExxonMobil is expected to decide on its preferred bidders within weeks.
One source suggested two or three players may be asked to take part in a competitive contest lasting six to nine months, leading to a potential contract award in the third quarter of next year.
ExxonMobil is also in talks with subsea players about hardware provision. Liza’s initial subsea production system is expected to include gas injectors and perhaps water injectors, as well as production wells.
There is market talk that the subsea system supporting the early production FPSO could more than triple in size if ExxonMobil is confident about the reservoir parameters.
One source, Upstreamonline.com said, noted that the broader challenge for the development lies less with its technical aspects and more with the area’s isolation.
There is no maritime or oil and gas infrastructure. The topography of the region would make development of such facilities very difficult.
Instead, supplies would likely come from Trinidad & Tobago where ExxonMobil sourced its drilling operation, though sources warned that the distance and strong ocean currents make logistics challenging.
Upstream previously reported that ExxonMobil intends to drill at least four more wells on its 6.6-million acre Stabroek block.
These will appraise Liza — an Upper Cretaceous discovery — and also target an exploration prospect called Ranger, a different play concept from the initial hit.
Sources familiar with the geology of the trend said they believed the reservoir would produce light oil with low viscosity that could flow at rates of anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 barrels per day from a single well.
ExxonMobil put out a tender earlier this year to secure a rig for the drilling programme that was thought to have drawn bids from a host of major rig contractors, but Upstream understands the rig procurement process is ongoing.
An ExxonMobil representative said the company “continues to progress” its future plans for the block, but offered few details.
“Liza-1 well and seismic data are being analysed to evaluate the resource potential of the reservoir and additional potential on the block,” said the representative. “Further details of our 2016 drilling program are in development.”
The original Liza wildcat hit more than 295 feet of high-quality oil bearing sandstone reservoirs and was drilled to 17,825 feet by the Transocean drillship Deepwater Champion. The site lies about 120 miles (192 kilometres) off Guyana in 5719 feet of water.
ExxonMobil operates Stabroek on a 45% stake, with US independent Hess holding 30% and China National Offshore Oil Corporation-owned Nexen on 25%.
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