Exxon's new discovery boosts Guyana oil estimate to over 8 billion bbls

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas September 15, 2008. A big chunk of U.S. energy production shuttered by Hurricane Ike could recover quickly amid early indications the storm caused only minor to moderate damage to platforms and coastal refineries. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/File Photo

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday raised its Guyana oil estimates by 2 billion barrels with disclosure of a new discovery, as it continues to develop one of the world’s most important new oil and gas blocks in the last decade.

The new find continues an Exxon-led consortium’s long string of discoveries in Latin America’s newest crude producing nation and underscores the importance of Guyana to Exxon for increasing its future oil output.

Exxon and partners Hess Corp and China’s CNOOC started production at the Stabroek block ahead of schedule in December. The latest discovery, the 16th by the group, brings total recoverable oil and gas resources to more than 8 billion barrels.

Recoverable oil is accessible by existing drilling technologies and is profitable to pump at current prices. The new discovery would be added to official resource estimates at a later date, Exxon said.

Following Guyana’s first-ever oil export earlier this month, another vessel - the Suezmax tanker Eagle San Antonio - is scheduled to approach Exxon’s offshore producing vessel in coming days for loading the second cargo of Liza light sweet crude for exports, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The Yannis P, carrying Guyana’s first crude cargo, is underway to the U.S. Gulf Coast, where Exxon plans to discharge the vessel into its refining network. The shipment marked the tiny South American nation’s long-awaited debut as an oil exporter.

Production from the Liza Phase 1 development is currently ramping up and it will produce up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day in the coming months, the company said.

While Exxon plans to refine Liza crude itself in the short term, Guyana’s government recently awarded Royal Dutch Shell a tender for its first three cargoes and it plans to launch next month a competitive process to choose a marketing agent to trade and export its share of production.

Exxon is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings later this week on Jan. 31.

Reporting by Shariq Khan and Shanti S. Nair in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Vinay Dwivedi