The ExxonMobil-operated Payara-Pacora joint development off Guyana has been put on hold until the new administration of President Mohamed Irfaan Ali conducts a thorough review of the project, according to a news report.

In a key oil sector decision just days after coming to power, Ali said the Guyanese government is lobbying for technical and financial support to have an international expert review of the US supermajor's proposed Payara-Pacora development, local publication Stabroek News reported.

Ali said the government has approached Canadian authorities for assistance in finding a suitable qualified person to conduct the review and advise on the way forward.

'Engaging international expert'

“Specifically to the Payara licence, I have asked the vice president and convened a meeting with various stakeholders, and I have made it very clear that we will have a review of what has been done so far,” he told Stabroek News.

“So, we are in the process of engaging an international expert to do that review of the work done so far.”

ExxonMobil had been pressing for a deadline to have its permits approved to make a final investment decision on Payara-Pacora, but the report suggests the company will have to wait first for the advice from the oil and gas expert.

First oil delay

UK consultancy firm Bayphase was hired last year to provide advisory services and technical support to the Guyana government that included an in-depth review of Payara-Pacora.

The Stabroek block partners — ExxonMobil, US independent Hess and Chinese player CNOOC International — have so far pushed back the expected start date of Payara-Pacora by six to 12 months, with first oil now predicted for 2024.

ExxonMobil started output from the giant Liza field in Stabroek last December with the SBM Offshore-owned Liza Destiny floating production, storage and offloading vessel, which has capacity to handle 120,000 barrels per day of oil and 170 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

A second floater — Liza Unity — also to be supplied by SBM and able to process 220,000 bpd and 400 MMcfd is earmarked to enter operation in the field in 2022.

ExxonMobil is eyeing a unit similar in size — the Prosperity FPSO — for the Payara-Pacora development.

Hull 'progressing'

SBM earlier this month said construction of the FPSO hull using the company’s Fast4Ward concept is progressing in accordance to schedule, but highlighted the project remains subject to the Guyana government approval and authorisation to proceed to the next phase.

In a recent conference call with investors, ExxonMobil senior vice president Neil Chapman said: “We are ready to FID this project, but we need an approved development plan, and that needs to come from the government.”