ExxonMobil has sanctioned the first phase of the Liza deepwater development 120 miles offshore the South American nation of Guyana. Phase 1 will develop approximately 450 million barrels of oil.
The Liza field is located in the 6.6 million acre Stabroek Block, where the company has drilled a number of wells since the initial discovery in 2015 to support Liza field development. With additional discoveries in the Liza area and at Payara, Snoek and Turbot, the block is now estimated to contain between 2.3 billion and 2.8 billion oil-equivalent barrels.
Liza Phase 1 is expected to cost more than $4.4 billion, with startup slated for early 2020. The project involves the conversion of an oil tanker into a floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel and four undersea drill centers with 17 wells, including eight production wells producing up to 120,000 barrels of oil a day. Water and gas injection will maximize oil recovery.
The undertaking is a global effort, involving multiple contractors and suppliers worldwide.
“Project activities are underway in more than a dozen countries now,” says Gina Dickerson, senior project manager for Liza Phase 1. “I am confident that the team will bring all of the parts of the project together and be ready for the installation campaign offshore Guyana in 2019, before startup.”
“From the start, we set out to strike a balance between understanding the numerous risks and uncertainties and progressing the project quickly,” says CT Khoo, Guyana project executive, who has been with the company for 35 years and has managed such major undertakings as liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments in Qatar.
“We decided on a phased, highly cost-efficient approach that targets the highest-quality reservoirs first, thus increasing our chance of success,” Khoo says. “This approach will also give us information on the development of the rest of the field. In addition, we can apply our experience offshore Angola, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea here.”
The project team was put together one month after the initial discovery well – unusually fast for a development of this size and complexity. The exploration, development, production and drilling teams fast-tracked the project to a final investment decision within two years of discovery, and the prospect of first oil is in less than five years.
“I’m really proud of the team for accomplishing so much in a short time. We hope this project will be a pacesetter that people will look back on for key lessons on efficient and timely deepwater development, especially in the low-price environment we find ourselves in today,” Khoo says.
Partnership and aspiration
ExxonMobil worked closely with partners Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Ltd. to achieve full alignment on the development plan. The in-country team is also building a long-term, trusting relationship with the Guyanese government to gain its continuing confidence and support.
“Without an established oil and gas industry, everything was new to the government,” says Rod Henson, Guyana lead country manager. “The intensive effort and due diligence they exercised on the review of our production license application and environmental impact assessment was impressive.”
ExxonMobil and the Guyanese government are working together to realize the government’s aspiration of maximizing benefit and creating lasting value from its petroleum resources. The company supports this effort with a three-pronged approach: developing the Guyanese workforce; working with local companies for the competitive supply of in-country goods and services; and making strategic investments to support health, education and infrastructure programs.
More than 400 Guyanese nationals are now employed in marine operations, catering, security, transportation, housing and other project support activities, as well as in the ExxonMobil office in the capital city of Georgetown. ExxonMobil and DAI Global LLC, an international development company, opened the Guyana Business Development Centre in July to promote the establishment and growth of small- and medium-size businesses in Guyana. An online supplier registration website has attracted 300 companies, 100 of which are Guyanese.
ExxonMobil's Russell Carter, a 32-year-old operations technical coordinator for the Liza 1 project, was born in Guyana and left the country in 2003 to attend Pennsylvania State University. After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, ExxonMobil hired him in 2007. Following several jobs within the company, including a stint as a facilities engineer on offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, he was tapped to become part of the Liza operations readiness team in 2016.
“These are exciting times for Guyana, and for me to be on a project that will potentially help my country gives me a great deal of pride,” Carter says. “One of my career goals was to be involved in the startup of a large project in another country that can positively impact the lives of people for generations to come. It feels like destiny that it’s now happening, and it’s happening in the country where I was born.”