Exxon Mobil is in talks with Guyana to return unexplored offshore areas to the government this year, reported Reuters, citing people close to the discussions.

The move comes as Guyana seeks to attract new operators to boost its oil and gas production output.

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

The offshore areas include parts of the 6.6 million-acre Stabroek block and two other blocks, Kaieteur and Canje.

The areas returned could either be part of a competitive auction or directly negotiated with other governments, one of the sources said.

A company spokesperson was cited by the news agency as saying that the company is in “ongoing discussions with the government regarding these requirements, in respect to both timing and area”.

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By GlobalData

One of sources said that the consortium is due to return a 20% unexplored portion of the Stabroek block in October 2023.

Guyana is also planning to launch its first competitive auction in August 2023 for 14 offshore blocks, seeking potential bids from new operators.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that Guyana’s offshore oil blocks auction has attracted at least ten companies including Petrobras, Shell and Chevron.

In April 2023, Exxon and its partners made a new oil discovery in the Stabroek block through the drilling of the Lancetfish-1 well.