Kerry Moreland: From chasing storms to discovering tomorrow’s energy

Behind the energy

Growing up, I spent my time admiring the sky. Now, as a geoscientist for ExxonMobil, I survey the depths of the earth.

I have fond memories of my childhood in northeastern Oklahoma, sitting on the front porch with my family and watching thunderstorms roll in, illuminating the night sky. Fascinated by severe weather, I originally chose to study meteorology in college. That led me to an internship at a local news station, where I chased storms and tracked deadly tornados.

While I loved the thrill of storm chasing, my interests grew to climatology and then to geology. I then earned my masters in geophysics, which helped me land a job at ExxonMobil.

I’ve had the opportunity to search for oil around the world in many diverse basins, but my role as the Guyana Basin Exploration Project Manager will forever be a highlight. And it wasn’t an easy job. Energy companies had searched for oil and gas offshore Guyana for decades. Nearly 40 wells had been drilled in the area since the 1960s with unsuccessful results.

Exploration takes perseverance. And perseverance paid off.

In 2015, the teams at ExxonMobil and our partners were looking at an interesting prospect in the Stabroek Block approximately 120 miles off the coast of Guyana. It was a long shot, with only a 20 percent chance that it would result in a promising discovery. But on May 5, when the drill bit entered into the reservoir miles beneath the ship, and we knew our perseverance had finally paid off.

It was clear from the incoming data that we had something significant on our hands. I will never forget holding the reservoir rock dripping with oil. It was at this moment that I realized it was about so much more than one person. It was about all the explorers who came before us who never gave up, and the potential to transform an entire nation.

That well is called Liza-1, one of the largest discoveries in the western hemisphere that year and a game changer for Guyana. Since that day three years ago, ExxonMobil has made seven more discoveries in the Stabroek Block offshore. Recently, the company announced that there are more than 4 billion oil-equivalent barrels of recoverable resource in the block, with the potential for up to five floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels.

Standing on that rig in Guyana, I felt the same adrenaline rush and gratification as I did when I was chasing storms, knowing that our discovery would provide the energy for tomorrow and help change lives for generations to come.

 

Update: Since publication, ExxonMobil has announced its ninth discovery offshore Guyana. Hammerhead-1 is the fifth discovery in the last year and the eighth since Liza in 2015. “

 

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