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Guyana-Suriname’s Recent Duds Take Little Shine Off World’s Hottest Offshore Play


The Guyana-Suriname Basin (GSB) is the most prolific exploration basin today with more than 10 billion boe of recoverable resource discovered since 2015, similar to the combined discoveries of all other major offshore basins in Brazil, Mexico, Gulf of Mexico, the U.K. and Norway over that same period.

Though the amount of new-field wildcat (NFW) wells drilled in the GSB is comparable to other basins globally, unparalleled deepwater exploration success rates – roughly 90% since 2015 – coupled with large discoveries differentiate the basin from others. With the basin’s success located largely within the Exxon-operated Stabroek Block and the Total-operated Block 58, companies owning nearby acreage are attempting to extend the prolific Upper Cretaceous turbidite play, which accounts ~95% of the discovered resource to date.

Despite the basin’s initial outburst of success, a recent and predictable regression in commercial success rates is observed – more than 40% of deepwater NFWs drilled since 2019 exhibit poor results. While several geologic factors contributed to these failures, hydrocarbon quality is a primary culprit where uneconomic amounts of heavy oil or gas have been discovered. We note that many of these NFWs fall near the boundary of the main Upper Cretaceous fairway, according to our geologic interpretations, and we expect success rates to continue to struggle in these non-core areas as operators in periphery acreage try to replicate the accomplishments observed in the Stabroek Block and Block 58.

FIGURE 1 | Wells Drilled in Guyana and Suriname

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