ExxonMobil has spudded its highly anticipated appraisal of the Liza oil discovery off Guyana.
The US supermajor has also begun seismic work on the adjacent Canje block after completing a farm-in deal.
Drillship Stena Carron has spudded the Liza-2 appraisal after sailing to ExxonMobil’s Stabroek block off Guyana from the Canary Islands, where it had been idle for more than a year.
The Liza appraisal is the first of at least four wells — split between appraisals and wildcats — planned for the 6.5-million-acre block by ExxonMobil, along with partners Hess and CNOOC Ltd subsidiary Nexen.
Earlier this month, Hess chief operating officer Greg Hill said the appraisal programme would also include a drill-stem test of Liza-2 in order to better understand reservoir characteristics such as the oil-water contact and any compartmentalisation of the reservoir.
Despite those unknowns, Hill called rock properties of the Liza reservoir “fantastic” on a conference call with investors.
In addition to the appraisal drilling, ExxonMobil will drill one or more wildcats to test additional prospects after receiving data from a 17,000-square-kilometre seismic shoot that is being completed by CGG.
“The objective there is to figure out what if we are seeing on seismic is replicable in other areas of the block, because we have a lot of lookalikes on seismic,” Hill said.
“So we want to get a well or two in a couple of the other things and see what running room we have on the block. We think there’s a lot, but obviously you’ll need some more wells to figure that out.”
In addition to the drilling work, ExxonMobil is kicking off a suite of science on its newly expanded holdings off Guyana.
Earlier this month, ExxonMobil began meteorological and oceanographic surveys on Stabroek as well.
The work plan calls for surveys in three separate areas on the sprawling block ranging from 104 to 134 nautical miles (192 to 248 kilometres) off Guyana.
On the neighbouring Canje block, ExxonMobil will begin a 3D seismic shoot on 9 March as part of the required work programme for the recently acquired acreage.
Dubai-based geophysical contractor Polarcus has begun work to acquire 7760 square kilometres of seismic about 105 nautical miles off Guyana.
Polarcus will use the Polarcus Adira, which was built in 2012 and can tow up to 14 streamers.
The vessel will be supported by the Vroon Vos Athos and the Rederij Groen-owned 7-Oceans, which is currently being operated by Dolphin Geophysical under a four-year charter.
The shoot is expected to last about six months.
Canje lies to the north of the supermajor’s Stabroek block.
ExxonMobil farmed in to the block for a 35% interest and operatorship through a deal with Toronto-based JHI Associates and Georgetown-based Mid Atlantic Oil & Gas, which previously held the block with a 75:25 ownership split.
Upstream understands that the partners plan to acquire and interpret seismic ahead of a potential wildcat on block next year.