Optimism that ExxonMobil will find oil in commercial quantities at Liza-1 well on the Stabroek Block

ExxonMobil and its partners in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana have reportedly encountered hydrocarbons at the closely watched wildcat well on the Liza prospect.

The well is being drilled some 120 miles offshore Guyana by the Transocean Deepwater Champion drillship, with most of the services to the drillship being supplied out of Trinidad.

An announcement of the discovery was made by Guyanese Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, just days before Guyana’s general elections.

Minister Persaud reported that a full evaluation of the results is under way from the exploration company, but it was too early to determine if the resources are commercially viable.

The Liza prospect is being drilled in the highly prospective but underexplored Guyana-Suriname basin, identified by geologists as one of the world’s most promising potential hydrocarbon provinces.

It has also attracted attention because it is being drilled in a contested maritime economic zone, also claimed by neighbouring Venezuela in a dispute going back to the colonial era.

The Venezuelan Government has written to the company alerting them to the dispute, and in April 2015 they published a notice in the Trinidadian press highlighting the dispute.

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. (EEPGL), an affiliate of ExxonMobil, holds a 45 percent interest in the block, with Hess Guyana Exploration Limited holding a 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holding a 25 percent interest.