Potential for increased oil production capacity at all Stabroek block projects

─ could result in more frequent oil lifts

There is potential for all of ExxonMobil’s sanctioned and unsanctioned developments in the Stabroek block to produce oil exceeding their designed capacity.

This was revealed during the virtual 2020 Q3 earnings Call of Hess Corporation, one of the co-venturers in the Stabroek block.

Destiny FPSO

Asked by an analyst to shed light on production optimisation options, the company’s president and chief operating officer, Gregory Hill, said that dynamic data gathered in the future would inform the company of the amount of scope there is from optimisation, and gave estimates based on his nearly four decades of experience in the industry.

“I think the range of 10 to 20 per cent capacity for debottlenecking or capacity increases is a reasonable expectation,” Hill said.

So far, the government has approved three of ExxonMobil’s proposed projects. The fourth is in the review stage.

For Liza Phase One, the Liza Destiny floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel is designed to safely produce oil at peaks of 120,000 barrels per day. However, ExxonMobil has achieved production in excess of this amount. The company had plans to conduct “debottlenecking” in the latter half of 2021, but postponed the event to 2022.

Hill said during the most recent earnings call for Hess, “the optimisation work on Destiny is now planned for the first quarter. This was simply deferred to allow other planned maintenance and inspection work to be done concurrently.”

The Liza Unity, which is currently being installed at the site of the Liza Phase Two project, is designed to safely produce 220,000 barrels of oil per day. The Prosperity FPSO, to be used for Payara, is designed with similar capacity. The Yellowtail FPSO, for which the project is currently under review, is being designed to produce 250,000 barrels of oil per day.

At their peak production rates (called nameplate capacity), these four projects total 810,000 barrels of oil per day.

Prosperity FPSO

With 10 to 20 per cent increases in capacity for these projects, they could see nameplate increases between 81,000 and 162,000 barrels of oil per day.

Increased nameplates for offshore projects translate to quicker inflows of funds to Guyana’s sovereign wealth fund, since the country would receive lifts more frequently.

Hill said that debottlenecking to optimise production at its Guyana projects is not an unreasonable expectation. Given the rapid cost recovery mechanism granted by the Stabroek block production sharing agreement (PSA), the Hess executive sees optimisation as a profitable thing to do.