The Payara field lies in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana. Credit: SBM Offshore.
The Prosperity FPSO arrived in Guyanese waters in April 2023. Credit: SBM Offshore.
SBM Offshore was awarded the contract to construct, install and operate Prosperity FPSO for two years in October 2020. Credit: SBM Offshore.
The Payara field is expected to start production in late 2023. Credit: SBM Offshore.

Located in the Stabroek block offshore Guyana, the Payara field is the second discovery in the block after the Liza field.

Esso Exploration and Production Guyana, a subsidiary of the oil and gas company Exxon Mobil, is the operator and holds a 45% interest in the block. Hess Guyana Exploration, an energy company and a subsidiary of Hess, and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana, a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil (CNOOC), hold 30% and 25% interests in the block, respectively.

The final investment decision (FID) on the $9bn Payara field development was made in September 2020.

Geology of the Guyana Basin

The Guyana Basin is an underexplored petroleum province and has witnessed minimal exploration activity since the late 1980s. Existing seismic data indicated the presence of multiple play types, including large early Cretaceous structures, structural-stratigraphic hydrocarbon traps, and tertiary mass transport complexes.

In the exploration area, the Cenomanian-Turonian Canje formation source rock is covered by a thick Cretaceous section located within a submarine canyon. The area was targeted by Exxon.

Stabroek block offshore Guyana

The Stabroek block covers 6.6 million acres (26,800km²) offshore Guyana and is equivalent to 1,150 Gulf of Mexico blocks. It contains multiple prospects and play types, apart from the Payara and Liza discoveries, indicating multi-billion barrel unrisked exploration potential.

The block also includes the Snoek and Liza Deep discoveries, which are world-class oil discoveries expected to deliver substantial benefits to Guyana.

Payara field reserves

The gross recoverable resources of Payara are estimated to be 600 million barrels of oil equivalent (mboe). The Stabroek block is estimated to contain gross discovered recoverable resources of approximately 11 billion barrels of oil equivalent, as of April 2022.

Payara field discovery

The Payara field was discovered by the Payara-1 well, which was drilled to a depth of 18,080ft (5,512m) in 6,660ft (2,030m) of water. The discovery is located approximately ten miles (16km) north-west of the Liza discovery.

The discovery well targeted similarly aged reservoirs as those of the Liza field. It encountered 95ft (29m) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs. Two side tracks were also drilled on the well.

The well was spudded in November 2016 and reached its full depth in December 2016. The discovery and the two side tracks were drilled by the Stena Carron drillship supplied by Stena Drilling.

Payara field appraisal

The Payara-2 appraisal well was drilled on the field in July 2017, approximately 12 miles (20km) north-west of the Liza development. It was drilled to a depth of 19,068ft (5,812m) in 7,000ft (2,135m) of water and encountered 59ft of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.

Two side tracks were also drilled to evaluate the appraisal well using the Stena Carron drillship. Further appraisal works provided key data to formulate development plans for the field.

Payara field development details

The Payara field development includes the drilling of 41 wells, out of which 20 will be production wells while 21 will be injection wells from ten drill centres.

The floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel, Prosperity and a subsea system including subsea trees, umbilical, risers, and flowlines equipment will be installed.

Payara is being developed along with the Liza field, the first phase of development of which was approved in June 2017 and started production in 2019.

Prosperity FPSO details

The Prosperity FPSO has the capacity to produce 220,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and treat 400 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d) of gas.

It has a water injection capacity of 250,000bpd and an overall storage volume of two million barrels of crude oil.

The FPSO will be located 200km offshore Guyana, equipped with a SOFEC spread mooring system and moored at a water depth of 1,900m.

Contractors involved

TechnipFMC, an oil and gas services provider, was awarded a contract to supply a subsea system for the Payara field in October 2020. The scope of the contract included the manufacture of a subsea production system consisting of 41 subsea trees and associated tooling, six flexible risers, and ten manifolds along with associated controls and tie-in equipment.

TechnipFMC, together with energy company Halliburton were chosen to provide their Odassea™ subsea fibre-optic solution, an advanced downhole fibre-optic sensing system for the project in July 2021.

SBM Offshore, an offshore solutions provider, was contracted to construct, install and then lease and operate the Prosperity FPSO for two years in October 2020 followed by the transfer of the ownership and operation of the FPSO to Esso Exploration and Production Guyana.

SBM Offshore signed a ten-year contract for the operations and maintenance of Prosperity FPSO with Esso Exploration & Production Guyana in May 2023.

Comprising the merged Keppel Offshore & Marine and Sembcorp Marine, Seatrium is responsible for the installation and integration of topside modules, riser, mooring, and umbilical structures onto the FPSO. Fabrication services were also provided by Keppel Offshore & Marine.

Oil field services company Saipem was selected to provide engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) services for the subsea production facility of the Payara field in November 2019. The contractual scope includes subsea structures, risers and flowlines. Saipem’s flagship vessels, Saipem FDS2 and Saipem Constellation, are used for the offshore installation.