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ExxonMobil Submits FDP for Over US$12 Billion Whiptail Project

Special Reporter, Toronto, Canada

ExxonMobil, the oil giant, has submitted a Field Development Plan (FDP) for the Whiptail project, which is estimated to cost over US$12 billion, marking their sixth project in Guyana's offshore waters. However, a Final Investment Decision (FID) is expected to be made in the next year.

Exxon Guyana President Alistair Routledge made this announcement during a press conference on Tuesday, revealing that the FDP for the project was submitted the previous week, on Friday, October 13. This submission initiates the regulatory approval process, including permitting processes.

Whiptail, as the sixth development within the Stabroek Block, is projected to increase the installed production capacity in the country to over 1.2 million barrels of oil per day by the end of 2027, according to Routledge.

Routledge estimated that the project's cost would range between US$12 billion and US$13 billion and mentioned that a Final Investment Decision is likely to be reached in the first quarter of the following year, pending regulatory procedures.

ExxonMobil had previously sought approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Whiptail project earlier in the year. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) outlined plans for the project to encompass between 33 and 72 wells, with development drilling anticipated to occur from late 2024 or early 2025 through mid-2030, with potential extensions to 2031.

The installation of subsea components is scheduled to commence in the latter half of 2025 or early 2026, with the FPSO vessel installation, commissioning, and start-up expected in 2027. The project's anticipated lifespan extends for at least 20 years.

ExxonMobil stated that the project would employ over 500 individuals during drilling and installation, with an additional 100 to 180 persons employed during production. The Whiptail FPSO vessel is expected to be similar to the one used for Yellowtail and designed to target a production rate of 300,000 barrels per day.

Regarding potential environmental impacts, the EIA noted that the project would not disturb any natural onshore habitats as it is located over 195 kilometers off the coast. However, it could potentially have significant impacts on water quality, climate, and specific marine biological and socio-economic resources. The assessment included mitigation measures for the EPA's consideration. The EPA had previously invited citizens to submit concerns about the project, within a 60-day period, through a notice issued in August.

The Stabroek Block covers 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometers). Exxon, through its local subsidiary Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), holds a 45% interest in the block, with Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd holding 30% and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, a subsidiary of CNOOC Limited, holding the remaining 25% interest.

ExxonMobil anticipates having at least six projects offshore in Guyana, including the Whiptail project, operational by 2027. Production has already begun for the Liza Phase 1 and 2 projects, with the third development, Payara, set to start at the end of the year. The fourth and fifth developments, Yellowtail and Uaru, have received governmental approval.

Special Reporter, Toronto, Canada

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