Deepwater success

Our portfolio of deepwater opportunities is key to long-term growth plans. An ongoing focus on exploration and acquisition of low-cost, high-return development opportunities enabled us to capture attractive deepwater positions around the globe. For example, deepwater projects in Guyana and Brazil carry substantial upside potential, are attractive at a range of crude prices, and contribute to growing Upstream earnings and cash-flow capacity.

Report April 2, 2019

In this article

Deepwater success


We achieved significant exploration success on the Stabroek block in Guyana in 2018, with five additional discoveries. The Pluma exploration well was the 10th offshore discovery on the block and proved a new play concept for potential development.

Discoveries to date now represent an estimated recoverable resource of more than 5 billion gross oil-equivalent barrels. This is an increase from 3.2 billion oil-equivalent barrels at the beginning of 2018. Due to this remarkable success and potential additional upside, we are accelerating exploration plans and implementing rapid phased developments. The collective discoveries will now support at least five floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels, producing more than 750,000 barrels per day by 2025. In addition to exploration and development drilling on the Stabroek block, we captured Block 59 offshore Suriname during the year, as we seek to extend play potential to nearby areas.


Artificial intelligence results in improved drilling performance

In Guyana, a drilling automation platform on the Noble Bob Douglas drilling rig utilizes the ExxonMobil-developed Drilling Advisory System algorithm. This application leverages artificial intelligence to understand formation characteristics and automatically optimize drilling parameters, resulting in improved drilling and safety performance, and lower costs. We plan to expand automation technology in other areas around the world, including unconventional field operations.

Liza Phase 1 will use the Liza Destiny FPSO vessel to produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day and is expected to begin production by early 2020, less than five years after initial discovery and four years faster than the industry average. Liza Phase 2 will use a second FPSO vessel designed to produce up to 220,000 barrels per day and is expected to start production in 2022. A third development, Payara, will likely receive a final investment decision in 2019 and utilize an FPSO vessel designed to produce approximately 180,000 barrels of oil per day, beginning as early as 2023.

>5 billion barrels of recoverable resource in Guyana, up 50% this year

A strong partnership with the government and people of Guyana, including significant participation by the local workforce and businesses, is supporting Guyana’s burgeoning energy industry. Currently, a majority of employees working on our Guyana projects in-country are Guyanese, as we work toward a future workforce of largely Guyanese employees and contractors. This partnership enables us to develop Guyana’s resources in a way that maximizes value for both the people of Guyana and our shareholders.

Guyana resource production

(thousands of barrels per day)


We continued to establish a strong position in Brazil during the year, capturing additional acreage through multiple successful bid rounds and farm-ins. Brazil held the Round 15 tender, through which we captured nearly 680,000 net acres across eight blocks in the Santos, Campos, and Sergipe basins. We also won the Uirapuru and Titã blocks in Brazil’s Pre-Salt Round 4 and Round 5 tenders, respectively, and completed a farm-in to two blocks in the Sergipe Basin. We operate more than 60 percent of the acreage we hold in Brazil, with a working interest in 26 blocks, including the Potiguar and Cera blocks (not shown on map). In recent years, we have built one of the industry’s largest acreage positions in Brazil.

We also completed an initial purchase of interest in the BM-S-8 block, which contains the remainder of the Carcara field that we acquired in 2017. Development activities for Carcara are progressing rapidly. This investment generates a better-than-10-percent rate of return at $40 per barrel.

In 2018, we encountered oil at the Guanxuma prospect near the Carcara field on the BM-S-8 block. The Carcara field is also adjacent to the Uirapuru block, where we have near-term exploration drilling planned.

Our acreage position in Brazil holds multibillion-barrel potential. Execution of an aggressive exploration schedule is under way, including investment in nearly 66,000 square kilometers of 3D seismic data. The resulting data are integral to the evaluation of prospects and permitting of drillwell locations.


High-performance computing enables rapid integration with processing and interpretation workflows

The integrated application of technology enabled ExxonMobil to rapidly and successfully compete in Brazil bid rounds, leading to multiple successful acreage captures. ExxonMobil’s high-performance computing capabilities, combined with our proprietary technology to iteratively enhance seismic images through integrated processing and interpretation workflows, allow us to quickly reduce uncertainty in the sub-salt geology.

These efforts, along with our regional understanding of the geology, have allowed ExxonMobil to increase our Brazil acreage position.

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