Exploration in the Guyana-Suriname Basin has been a decades-long endeavor, including technical challenges and a lengthy history of drilling with no offshore success prior to the Liza discovery. The 1929 New Nickerie well was the first onshore well in Suriname, and was followed by 30 years of dry holes before the heavy-oil Tambaredjo field was discovered in the 1960s. In the 1990s, nearly 40 years after the Tambaredjo discovery, ExxonMobil utilized the 1970s-vintage, poor-to moderate-quality, 2D seismic and gravity data available to create a series of hand-drawn, level-of-maturity (LOM) source and environments-of-deposition (EOD) maps over the basin to move their exploration efforts forward. This work established the genetic fundamentals necessary for understanding the hydrocarbon system and led to negotiation for and capture of the Stabroek Block in 1999.
The Liza-1 success in 2015 spurred extensive activity in the Basin by ExxonMobil and the Stabroek Block co-venturers, Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited (Austin et al. 2021). The collection of extensive state-of-the art seismic data has been leveraged to enable successful exploration of multiple play types across the Guyana-Suriname Basin. Further data collection, including over 2 km of conventional core and additional seismic data acquisition and processing, has enabled ExxonMobil to adopt interpretation techniques that are applied across the entire basin to characterize and understand the subsurface better.
From initial hand-drawn maps to the use of advanced technology today, ExxonMobil's work in the Guyana-Suriname Basin has relied on integration of geologic and geophysical understanding as well as the ability to leverage new technology to continue a successful exploration program with 8 billion barrels discovered to date.