This week, Hess (NYSE:HES) announced that its exploration partnership with oil giant ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and China's CNOOC (NYSE:CEO) made their ninth discovery offshore Guyana. It's also the fifth find they've announced in the past year, as the trio of oil companies have rapidly explored the region to uncover its oil riches. This latest discovery adds to the more than 4 billion barrels of recoverable resources that Hess and its partners expect to develop in the coming years. Further, given the low-cost nature of these reserves, they have the potential to create significant value for investors going forward.
Drilling down into the latest find
Hess announced that the Hammerhead-1 well offshore Guyana had encountered 197 feet of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone. The well was within the Stabroek Block, which is a mega exploration region consisting of 6.6 million acres controlled by Exxon (45% interest), Hess (30%), and CNOOC (25%). While Hess didn't announce how much oil it found, CEO John Hess stated that, "Hammerhead is another significant oil discovery that further demonstrates the tremendous prospectivity of the Stabroek Block, where we continue to see multi-billion barrels of additional exploration potential."
The Exxon-led partnership announced last month that the eight previous discoveries contain an estimated 4 billion barrels of oil-equivalent resources, which is an increase from January's estimate of 3.2 billion barrels based on the first six finds. This latest discovery via the Hammerhead well will likely add to that number, bolstering what is already one of the largest oil discoveries in the last decade.
A high-octane growth engine
Last summer, Exxon, Hess, and CNOOC announced their final investment decision for the first phase of development for their offshore Guyana discoveries. The partners expect to invest $3.2 billion into that project, which will develop a 450 million barrel resource. That project should start producing in 2020 at a rate of 120,000 barrels per day (BPD). The companies currently anticipate that they can develop up to five production centers in the region that could produce more than 750,000 BPD by 2025. However, with another discovery in the books, and a vast acreage position yet to explore, the partners could eventually increase this outlook.
These future developments are crucial to the growth plans of both ExxonMobil and Hess. Guyana, along with the Permian Basin, will provide the key fuels to drive Exxon's plan to increase its output by 1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/D) by 2025, to roughly 5 million BOE/D. That production boost positions the oil giant to double earnings and cash flow over that timeframe, assuming oil prices are in the low $60s, which is below the current price.
Hess, meanwhile, also has dual growth drivers in the form of Guyana and the Bakken Shale, which position it to grow production at a 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2023. That fast-growing output puts Hess on pace to deliver an even faster 20% CAGR in cash flow assuming oil prices average $50 a barrel over that timeframe. There's ample upside to that forecast since oil prices are currently well above that level, and Hess and its partners have made more discoveries since it unveiled that forecast.
A compelling oil stock for the long haul
Hess and its partners are sitting on an ever-expanding giant of an oil field offshore Guyana. Because of that, the company appears poised to deliver high-octane growth in the coming years, which has the potential to create significant value for shareholders. That makes Hess an intriguing oil stock for investors to consider buying and holding for the long term.