The U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil said Wednesday drilling operations offshore Guyana are unaffected despite Venezuelan navy stopping last week a seismic survey vessel hired by the American company.
The company said exploration and development drilling continues off the shore of Guyana, after a Venezuelan navy ship intercepted on Dec. 22 one of the two seismic vessels contracted by ExxonMobil from Norway's Petroleum Geo-Services
"Two vessels operated by Petroleum Geo-Services ceased conducting 3-D seismic data acquisition in the northwest portion of the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana when approached by the Venezuela navy," ExxonMobil said in a statement.
"The area where the incident occurred is more than 110 kilometers from the Ranger discovery, the closest of 10 oil discoveries made by ExxonMobil in the southeast section of the Stabroek Block," it added.
Venezuelan navy did not board the seismic vessel and later left the area. Both the governments of Guyana and Venezuela said the incident took place in their territorial waters.
ExxonMobil said in the statement it operates the Stabroek Block under license from the government of Guyana, and the acquisition of seismic data was being conducted under license from Guyana in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
Activities related to Phase 1 is expected to begin producing up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day in early 2020, while Phase 2 is expected to start production by mid-2022 to produce up to 220,000 barrels a day.
ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited is the operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block, while Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 percent interest, according to the statement.
By Ovunc Kutlu