(Argus, 3.Jun.2020) — Suriname is edging closer to a change of government that could pave the way for expanded offshore oil exploration.
The South American country is hoping to emulate neighboring Guyana, where ExxonMobil started oil production from the deepwater Stabroek block in December 2019.
Suriname’s current production is limited to around 16,300 b/d from the onshore Tambaredjo and Calcutta fields operated by state-owned Staatsolie.
In recent years, the company has signed several production-sharing agreements with foreign oil companies for offshore acreage.
ExxonMobil deepened its presence in Suriname last month by acquiring a 50pc stake in shallow-water Block 52 from Malaysian state-owned operator Petronas.
The farm-in deal follows an April 2020 oil discovery by US independent Apache at offshore Block 58, where Total holds the other 50pc.
ExxonMobil already has a contract with Staatsolie for deepwater Block 59, with partners US independent Hess and Norway’s Equinor. The block borders Guyana’s Stabroek.
Other companies with Suriname offshore acreage include Chevron, Inpex, Tullow, Kosmos, Murphy Oil, Cepsa and RWE.
Suriname has 92.5mn bl of proven reserves and 17.1mn bl of probable reserves, according to Staatsolie.
Preliminary results from the country’s 25 May parliamentary elections gave 20 seats to the main opposition Progressive Reform Party (VHP), which has since created a coalition with three smaller parties to control a total of 33 seats – one short of the two-thirds majority needed to select a president to replace Desi Bouterse who has held office since 2010.
Bouterse’s National Democratic Party (NDP) won just 16 seats.
In its policy statement, the VHP is vowing to encourage oil development as part of a “reconstruction” of the country’s natural resources.
International observers deemed Suriname’s election to be fair and credible, in contrast to Guyana’s 2 March parliamentary elections which are undergoing a vote recount after an outcry over alleged fraud in favor of the incumbent government.
By Canute James