With 2020 winding down, global offshore jack-up rig activity made one of its largest positive moves in weeks, jumping four units to 326
Westwood Global Energy’s RigLogix reported the rise in activity in week 51 as the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines have begun, with the first inoculations in the UK and the US. On 10 December, benchmark Brent crude oil closed above US$50 for the first time since March, continuing to strengthen. On 14 December, Brent closed at US$50.32, up over 3% week-on-week from US$48.66.
Globally, the number of contracted floaters remained steady at 103, with no changes in the North Sea, West Africa or South America, according to RigLogix.
However, deepwater oil exploration in South America in the Guyana-Suriname basin continues to yield success. Drilling on 11 December, Petronas Suriname E&P BV (PSEPBV) encountered its first hydrocarbons at the Sloanea-1 exploration well located in Block 52. PSEPBV is the operator of Block 52, working together with ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Suriname BV. Both oil companies hold a 50% interest in the block.
Block 52, which covers 4,749 km², is located north of the coast of Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital city, and is situated within the prospective Suriname-Guyana basin, where several major hydrocarbon discoveries have been made. The Sloanea-1 exploration well was successfully drilled to a depth of 4,780 m using the semi-submersible Maersk Developer. The Maersk Drilling floater and Maersk Valiant will be busy in the Suriname-Guyana basin potentially for years.
“Our first discovery in Suriname extends ExxonMobil’s leading position in South America, building on our successful investments in Guyana,” said ExxonMobil senior vice president of exploration and new ventures Mike Cousins. “We will continue to leverage our deepwater expertise and advanced technology to explore frontier environments with the highest value resource potential.”
Since May 2015, ExxonMobil Guyana has made 18 discoveries off the coast of the South American country and begun production in December 2019 from the Liza Phase 1 development. Together those 18 discoveries by ExxonMobil could potentially require at least five FPSO vessels producing more than 750,000 b/d by 2026.
ExxonMobil is the operator of the Stabroek, Canie and Kaieteur blocks offshore Guyana.
In September, ExxonMobil took FID on the Payara field offshore development in Guyana. Payara is the third project in the Stabroek block and is expected to produce up to 220,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d) starting in 2024, using the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel Prosperity.
Meanwhile, in addition to Block 52, PSEPBV also holds a 100% participating interest and operatorship in Block 48, and a 30% non-operated participating interest in Block 53.
A subsidiary of Petronas, PSEPBV has contracted Fugro to supply positioning services for an exploration programme in Block 52.
The two-year contract involves Fugro’s Starfix precise positioning solution to support safe and efficient transit, anchoring and drilling activities for the programme’s semi-submersible rig and offshore support vessels.
While both Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago’s international borders are closed due to Covid-19 precautions ahead of the programme’s first rig move in October 2020, Fugro’s local staff worked with regulators to deliver the surface and subsurface positioning services to safely and accurately position the rig onsite.