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ExxonMobil (XOM), Petronas Strike Major Find Offshore Suriname

ExxonMobil Corporation XOM and Production Suriname, an affiliate of ExxonMobil, alongside Petronas Suriname E&P, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Petronas, have announced a significant hydrocarbon discovery in Block 52 offshore Suriname. This marks the third significant find in the block since 2020, further solidifying the potential of the Suriname-Guyana basin for substantial oil and gas reserves.

Details of the Discovery

The Fusaea-1 exploration well, located approximately 170 kilometers offshore and 9 kilometers east of the Roystonea-1 discovery, was drilled to a depth of 5,227 meters by the Noble Voyager drillship. The well encountered multiple oil and gas-bearing sandstone reservoirs from the Campanian age. Remarkably, the drilling operation achieved this milestone with zero Lost Time Incidents.

Petronas and ExxonMobil are conducting further evaluations to determine the full extent of the discovery and its potential integration with previous finds, Roystonea-1 and Sloanea-1.

Statements from Petronas Leadership

Datuk Adif Zulkifli, Petronas’ executive vice president and CEO of Upstream, emphasized the importance of the Fusaea-1 results, stating that they solidified Petronas’ position in Suriname's hydrocarbon resources, building on previous discoveries in the region.

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Petronas’ vice president of Exploration, Mohd Redhani Abdul Rahman, noted that the success of Fusaea-1 reflects advancements in their understanding of the area, further enhancing the potential for oil and gas development in Block 52.

Operational and Strategic Developments

Covering an area of 4,749 square kilometers, Block 52 is situated north of Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital. Petronas operates the block with a 50% participating interest, while ExxonMobil holds the remaining stake. This partnership underscores the strategic importance of the Suriname-Guyana basin for future energy development.

In July 2023, Petronas awarded a drilling contract to Noble Corporation's Noble Discoverer rig, initially slated to commence in August 2023. However, the drilling responsibilities were later transferred to the Noble Voyager rig in January 2024. Petronas has since exercised an extension option to continue drilling another well in Block 52 at a daily rate of $470,000.

Beyond Block 52, Petronas operates Block 48 and Block 63 with a 100% interest and holds a 30% non-operating interest in Block 64. The company remains committed to its exploration and production activities in the region while pursuing new energy projects globally.

Broader Implications

This discovery is part of a broader strategy by both ExxonMobil and Petronas to expand their hydrocarbon portfolios in key regions. Petronas recently signed a new production-sharing contract and extended an existing one off the coast of Indonesia, aiming to increase its hydrocarbon output. In 2023, Petronas and its partners achieved 19 exploration discoveries and two appraisal successes in Malaysia, highlighting its robust exploration capabilities.

The continued success in Suriname’s Block 52 not only boosts Petronas’ and ExxonMobil’s resource base but also reinforces the Suriname-Guyana basin's status as a major emerging hydrocarbon province. The ongoing exploration and development efforts in this region are expected to contribute significantly to the global energy supply, meeting increasing demands and supporting energy security.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

ExxonMobil currently carries a Zack Rank #3 (Hold).

Investors interested in the energy sector may look at some better-ranked stocks like SM Energy Company SM, Marathon Petroleum Corporation MPC and Sunoco LP SUN. While SM Energy and Marathon Petroleum sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Sunoco carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

SM Energy is set to expand its oil-centered operations in the coming years with an increasing focus on crude oil, especially in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions. The company’s attractive oil and gas investments can create long-term value for shareholders.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for SM’s 2024 earnings per share (EPS) is pegged at $6.60. The company has a Zacks Style Score of B for Value. It has witnessed upward earnings estimate revisions for 2024 and 2025 in the past 30 days.

Marathon Petroleum's acquisition of Andeavor has expanded its foothold in the Permian Basin, creating an enviable retail and marketing portfolio. MPC’s emphasis on operational excellence, safety, and environmental responsibility, coupled with investments in low-carbon initiatives, positions it well for sustainable growth and continued value creation for shareholders.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for MPC’s 2024 EPS is pegged at $19.53. The company has a Zacks Style Score of A for Value. It has witnessed upward earnings estimate revisions for 2024 in the past 30 days.

Sunoco is a leading wholesale motor fuel distributor in the United States, boasting a vast distribution network spanning 40 states. With long-term contracts servicing over 10,000 convenience stores, it distributes over 10 fuel brands, ensuring a stable revenue stream. SUN currently has a Value Score of A.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2024 and 2025 earnings per unit is pegged at $5.07 and $4.47, respectively. The partnership has witnessed upward earnings estimate revisions for 2024 and 2025 in the past 30 days.

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