United States oil giant ExxonMobil and Guyanese authorities this week started two days of talks to determine whether it is feasible to run a 100-mile plus undersea pipeline bringing natural gas from its offshore wells to generate power for the Guyana Power and Light Corporation, the main state utility.
Spokeswoman Kimberly Brasington said Exxon has flown in a special team of specialists from headquarters in Texas to crunch numbers with officials in the country which is anxious to reduce dependency on fossil fuels for power generation.
“Yes we are starting the conversation on how it can be done and whether it should be done. If it is done, it will bring down the cost of power generation and it is cleaner,” Brasington said.
ExxonMobil had back in 2015 declared “a world class” oil and gas find off the Guyana coast and has already drilled eight of 17 wells it plans for the first phase of operations. Actual production is expected to begin in late 2019 or early 2020 with an estimated daily tally of more than 100,000 barrels per day. At that rate, Guyana will easily surpass Trinidad at 70,000 making it not only the latest country in the region to produce oil and gas but the largest.
The find has sent the country, which doubles as the headquarters of the 15-nation Caribbean single trading bloc of nations, into a tailspin as it rushes to prepare for transformation from centuries of dependence on gold, sugar, bauxite, rice and timber to one dominated by oil and gas.
Dozens of oil companies have applied for blocks, while the larger ones like Repsol of Spain and Tullow Oil of the United Kingdom are already preparing to begin exploratory works near Exxon’s Stabroek Block.
Brasington said the teams will study the possibility of running undersea pipelines from a floating production, storage and offloading facility the company is constructing to move crude oil from its wells, about 120 miles offshore Guyana.
Guyana says it spends $100M annually to import fuel to power generators and wants the gas Exxon will find while pumping oil to be brought ashore for domestic and commercial purposes.
“As the first of such sessions, the government of Guyana looks forward to furthering its understanding of the technical and key dynamics of proposed projects in an effort to diversify the energy mix in Guyana,” Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson,” said.