ExxonMobil Corp.’s (NYSE: XOM) persistent ultra-deepwater pursuit of oil has led to its second discovery on the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana.

The Houston-based company announced Jan. 12 that its Payara-1 well, which targeted reservoirs of similar age to the Liza discovery, hit more than 29 m (95 ft) of oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. The well was drilled to 5,512 m (18,080 ft) in 2,030 m (6,660 ft) of water in the Payara Field, northwest of the Liza discovery, the company said in a news release.

The discovery was made as companies are stepping up E&P activity and moving forward more efficiently with the aid of technology, following a hydrocarbon oversupply-driven downturn that gutted exploration budgets. For ExxonMobil, the discovery helps solidify the area offshore Guyana as an “exploration province,” according to Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Co.

“These latest exploration successes are examples of ExxonMobil’s technological capabilities in ultradeepwater environments, which will enable effective development of the resource for the benefit of the people of Guyana and our shareholders,” Greenlee said in the news release.

The Payara discovery is estimated to hold between 100 and 150 million oil-equivalent barrels.

To better gauge resource potential, ExxonMobil said the discovery is being evaluated, with two sidetracks drilled. A well test is underway.

Success at Payara-1, which was drilled by the Stena Carron drillship, follows the “world-class” Liza discovery made in 2015.

In addition to the Payara-1 well striking oil, the company said the Liza-3 appraisal well has identified a deeper reservoir below the Liza Field.

“The Payara-1 results further demonstrate the prospectivity of the Stabroek Block,” said John Hess, CEO of Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES), which also holds an interest in the Stabroek Block.

“We are excited about Payara as well as the deeper reservoir identified below the Liza Field,” Hess added. “While further appraisal is required, we believe that the resources recently discovered are significant and will be accretive to the more than 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent already confirmed at the Liza discovery.”

In addition to more exploration drilling, seismic analysis is planned for 2017, Hess Corp. said. Next steps include moving the drillship to the Snoek prospect, also located on the Strabroek Block about 10 kilometers (km) (6 miles) south of Liza-1.

The latest discovery could add to resources destined for an FPSO lined up for the field.

On Dec. 20, ExxonMobil said it selected SBM Offshore to carry out FEED work for the FPSO vessel that will be used at the Liza Field. If a final investment decision (FID) is made on the project, the company would also build, install and operate the vessel. An FID is expected in 2017.

Payara marks the third exploration well drilled offshore Guyana by ExxonMobil, following Liza and Skipjack. The latter, drilled 40 km (25 miles) northwest of Liza, was unsuccessful.

The 26,800 sq-km Stabroek Block is operated by ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd., which holds a 45% interest. Partner Hess Guyana Exploration Ltd. holds 30%, while partner CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Ltd. holds a 25% interest.

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Velda Addison can be reached at vaddison@hartenergy.com.