ExxonMobil Has Plans to Explore Oil Resources Offshore of Guyana's Disputed Essequibo Region

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The US oil and energy giant, ExxonMobil, says it plans to explore for oil offshore the Essequibo region where Venezuelan gunboats had six years ago chased seismic research vessels in oil concessions that had been granted by Guyana.

exploreoil“The Liza field, the last time I looked, takes you pretty close to that (equidistant) line. We plan to drill two exploration wells west of Liza and Payara. The Trumpet Fish and Redmoth exploration wells are planned more in the middle of the Stabroek Block during the course of this year so its not inhibiting that activity in our plans,” said President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge.

In 2015, Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro had unilaterally extended his country’s maritime boundary to take in all of the waters off the Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice counties after ExxonMobil had first announced its first oil discovery offshore Guyana. Venezuela’s navy had also intercepted two seismic research vessels in 2018 that had been gathering data for American companies, Anadarko Petroleum and ExxonMobil, off the Essequibo Region.

Routledge said the company planned to spend  around US$60-70 million on each exploration well, but that cost could escalate if more data has to be gathered and stem drill tests have to be conducted.

He acknowledged that the recent Guyana-Venezuela border dispute, where Caracas has insisted that it has ownership of the Essequibo region, which makes up about two-thirds of Guyana and is home to 125,000 of the country’s 800,000 citizens, had “made a lot of people nervous”.

But he maintained that ExxonMobil’s agreement with Guyana is legal.

“ExxonMobil has a comfort where we believe the contract which we have with the country is valid under the local law but also under international law we have valid rights to the blocks in which we are participating,” Routledge said.

He welcomed the Argyle Declaration that emerged out of last December’s talks between Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali and Maduro in which the two countries agreed not to issue threats of force or use force.

He hailed heightened defence cooperation between the United States and Guyana in the context of low carbon emissions and supply of energy to the rest of the world.

“The collaboration that we are seeing for Guyana with other countries on the military front as well as on the diplomatic and economic front reflects that and so I think it’s a healthy thing,” he said.

US Air Force Major General, Evan L. Pettus, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Commander, last week visited Guyana and held talks with government officials and top brass of the Guyana Defence Force to on air domain awareness and collaborating on advancing Guyana’s airspace awareness capacity to protect its national security and sovereignty.