In the mid to late 1990’s Guyana sold offshore concessions in the Guyana Basin for the exploration of oil.
Many companies, including ExxonMobil, CGX Energy Inc, Tullow, Repsol, Hess, CNOC and others, believed it to be an attractive investment.
The United States Geological Survey identified the basin as having the second highest resource potential among unexplored oil basins in the world with estimated mean recoverable oil reserves over 13.6 billion barrels and gas reserves of 32 trillion cubic feet.
The potential size of the fields is unsurprising given Guyana’s proximity to Venezuela, which has the highest proved oil reserves in the world.
There is an ongoing border dispute with Venezuela, which dates back to 1899, over certain territorial rights. This is currently being mediated by the UN (in Washington) but has not dissuaded Exxon (and other leading operators) from committing to a major exploration and development program.