Oil giant ExxonMobil has submitted a Field Development Plan (FDP) for the over-US$12 billion Whiptail project, which would be its sixth project in Guyana’s waters. A Final Investment Decision (FID) will, however, be made next year.
Making this announcement was ExxonMobil Guyana President Alistair Routledge, during a press conference on Tuesday. He explained that the FDP for the project was submitted since last week Friday.
“Whiptail, the sixth development in the Stabroek Block, we did in fact submit the Field Development Plan to the Ministry of Natural Resources last week… Friday 13 of October. So that has commenced the process on all regulatory fronts. So, all the permitting processes are now actively engaged.”
“Whiptail is the sixth project… when that comes on stream by the end of 2027, it will bring the installed capacity of production facilities in the country to over 1.2 barrels of oil per day,” the executive further said.
Routledge explained that the project is likely to cost between US$12 billion and US$13 billion.
Asked by this publication when a Final Investment Decision is likely to be made, Routledge indicated early next year.
“We’re anticipating somewhere around first quarter, somewhere around first quarter of next year, that we would reach the Final Investment Decision on Whiptail. But as I said, subject to going through the regulatory process,” he explained.
ExxonMobil had approached the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval of Whiptail, its sixth project in the Stabroek Block, early this year. According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the project will target between 33 and 72 wells. The documents further detailed that development drilling is expected to last from late 2024 or early 2025 through mid-2030, with the possibility of extending it as late as 2031.
Installation of subsea components of the project is meanwhile slated to begin in the 2025 second half or early 2026. The installation of the FPSO vessel as well as commissioning and start-up, are expected to occur in 2027. The life of the project is expected to last for at least 20 years.
According to the US oil company, the project will employ over 500 persons during drilling and installation. Additionally, between 100 and 180 persons will be employed during production. It was further explained that the Whiptail FPSO vessel will be similar to the one for Yellowtail and will be designed to target 300,000 barrels per day.
When it comes to any potential impacts from the project, the EIA stated that the project will not disturb any natural onshore habitats since it is taking place over 195 kilometres off the coast. However, it stated that the project may potentially have a meaningful impact on water quality, climate, and certain marine biological and socio-economic resources. However, mitigation measures were included in the assessment for the EPA to peruse. Meanwhile, the EPA had issued a notice in August inviting citizens to submit any concerns they may have about the project, within 60 days.
The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometres). Exxon, through its local subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), holds 45 per cent interest in the block. Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd holds 30 per cent interest and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited, holds the remaining 25 per cent interest.
ExxonMobil has said it anticipates at least six projects offshore Guyana, including the Whiptail project, will be online by 2027. Production has already started on the Liza Phase 1 and 2 projects, while the third development, Payara, will start up at the end of this year. Yellowtail and Uaru, Exxon’s fourth and fifth developments, have already received governmental approval.