Exxon, and its partners Hess and Nexen , have formally written to the government of Guyana declaring that the Liza field is commercial and that they will be fast-tracking development. According to local news sources, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman noted that it was the first time in Guyana’s 50-year history that Section 31 of the Petroleum Act had been “activated”. Minister Trotman is reported as saying, “This is a profound and watershed moment in the development of our country.” 

According to Hess, one of the partners in the Stabroek block, the company expects the estimated recoverable resources in Liza to be at the upper end of the previously announced range of 800 million to 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent. 

Meanwhile, Exxon has moved the Stena Carron drillship to test a new wildcat prospect named Payara, in the same Stabroek offshore block as the huge Liza oil discovery. The Stena Carron recently made the 10-mile move northeast to its new drill site. Results from Payara are expected in January. The declaration of commerciality on Liza – and Exxon’s continued exploration activity – has further raised excitement about Guyana’s entry into the oil and gas world. 

Activity so far has centered on the massive 6.6 million-acre Stabroek block, which runs almost the entire length of Guyana’s offshore zone. In addition to the Liza fields on which Exxon has drilled three wells to date, the company drilled another exploration prospect, named Skipjack, earlier this year. However, this turned out to be a dry hole, with no commercial hydrocarbons discovered. 

Given Exxon’s success in Liza, other international oil and gas companies are reported to be increasingly interested in the province and are actively trying to secure acreage. Meanwhile, the government of Guyana and the Guyanese private sector are both gearing up to be able to take advantage of the new industry. 

A new Guyana Oil and Gas Association was recently launched by a group of influential local business leaders. The association’s major goal is to ensure that the local private sector can participate in the new industry; its aim is to promote and protect a strong, competitive, capable and independent oil and gas industry in Guyana. The government is also reported to be working on a new local content policy, and other changes to the regulatory environment.