GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — ExxonMobil is pushing ahead with efforts to develop oil fields off the South American nation of Guyana.

Company spokeswoman Kimberly Brasington says it's asked Guyanese environmental authorities for permission to drill to up to 40 new wells as it develops the Liza Phase 2 offshore oil field. It already has 17 planned for the first phase.

Brasington said Sunday that the new project should kick in in 2022 — two years after production is expected to start at the Liza 1 field.

ExxonMobil along with partners Hess Oil and Nexen of China announced their first commercial find in 2015, setting the stage for the country to move from being a net importer of oil to a producer.

Brasington said the company will hold town hall meetings on the environmental permit.