Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted approval for an Exxon Mobil-led consortium to drill 35 new offshore exploration and appraisal wells, reported Reuters.

The consortium includes US oil company Hess and China’s China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

The approval allows the consortium to drill the wells within its 6.6-million-acre Stabroek offshore block.

The EPA said that new drilling “can be conducted in accordance with good environmental practices, and in a manner that avoids, prevents and minimises any adverse effects which could result from the activity”.

Last month, Reuters reported that the South American country was in talks with the Exxon-led consortium to return about 20% of unexplored or undeveloped areas within the group’s blocks.

As per the 2016 production agreement, the Exxon-led consortium is required to return at least 20% of unexplored or undeveloped offshore areas it owns at the renewal.

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By GlobalData

The offshore areas include parts of the Stabroek block and two other blocks, Kaieteur and Canje.

However, Exxon said that it will continue with oil and gas drilling even if the area is reduced due to relinquishment.

The new drilling campaign is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year and is expected to extend through 2028.

Exxon was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The project is being developed to discover new and re-evaluate existing recoverable hydrocarbons from reservoirs in the Stabroek Block, thereby enabling potential future development projects.”