Since 2015, over a dozen deepwater exploration and appraisal wells have been drilled across Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname. By 2020, these three countries are expected to see at least another twenty-five deepwater wells being drilled. These include 17 development wells for Guyana's massive Liza field. Seismic exploration is also being conducted over unexplored deepwater blocks in Guyana and Suriname, which could pave the way for even more wells during this period.
A key element in the offshore drilling supply chain is the onshore supply base. This shorebase is the logistics hub for all drilling activity. Supply vessels commute between the rig and shorebase, where they are loaded with all drilling fluid, cement, drillpipe, logging tools, food supplies, and any other equipment needed by the rig. Fuel and potable water for the rig are also loaded at the shorebase. When the vessels return from the rig, they unload waste generated at the rig and demobilize tools, unused drillpipe and so on.
The shorebase must have the following: covered warehousing, flattened and reinforced laydown yard, offices for support staff, and quayside access with a dock that is long enough and with deep enough draft to accommodate the supply vessels when fully laden with cargo. The shorebase must also have sufficient crews for loading and unloading of materials, as well as heavy equipment such as cranes and forklifts. Vessels must also be able to access electric power and load potable water, drill water and fuel.
In Guyana and Suriname, natural deepwater ports do not exist due to sedimentation from several rivers like the Berbice, Essequibo, Demerara and Paramaribo. The severe draft restriction means that the large supply vessels required to take cargo to the rig cannot easily dock in Guyana or Suriname. Moreover, Trinidad has many major multinational service companies already set up, so the majority of equipment and materials needed for drilling must emanate from Trinidad. Further, since Trinidad has a mature oil and gas industry, there are several shorebases already set up to service drilling operations. As a consequence of these three main factors, the primary shorebase for all wells in Guyana and Suriname have been located in Trinidad.
With the Liza field being developed, ports are being renovated in Guyana while more service companies are aiming to set up there. However, until a deepwater shorebase is built in either Guyana or Suriname, the primary supply base for these wells must come from Trinidad. Secondary supply bases have been located in Guyana or Suriname, to facilitate smaller supply vessels and emergency support.