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Exploring the hydrocarbon potential

Article - August 27, 2012
Offshore Suriname is unexploited, with only 25 wells drilled in an area of 150,000 km2
In its role as agent of the State with responsibility for the petroleum industry, Staatsolie has to assess Suriname’s offshore hydrocarbon potential and attract qualified international oil companies, negotiate contracts and monitor the execution of these contracts. Open blocks are made available through competitive bidding rounds or direct negotiations. International oil companies operating in Suriname presently include Inpex, Murphy Oil, Kosmos Energy, Tullow Oil and Statoil.

The offshore reserves off the coast of the Guiana Shield are considered possibly the most attractive unexplored basin in the world. Offshore Suriname is virtually unexplored, with only 25 exploration wells drilled in an area of approximately 150,000 square kilometers.

The presence of hydrocarbons within the basin was proven by the discovery of more than 1 billion barrels of oil (before production commenced) in the Tambaredjo Field.

As a result several international oil companies have expressed an interest in exploration. In the first quarter of 2013, Staatsolie will formally announce its fifth International Bidding Round in Houston, Texas. The industry will have the opportunity to bid on blocks including those on the Demerara Plateau where Staatsolie executed a regional 2D seismic survey last year.

In December 2011, Staatsolie signed three production-sharing contracts, which have a 30-year validity, with oil multinationals Kosmos Energy and Murphy Oil. The companies have opted for production sharing contracts while 2 and 3D seismic surveys are pending. Staatsolie Managing Director Marc Waaldijk is convinced that Staatsolie has made solid deals with the two foreign companies. The deal with Kosmos states that next to the usual conditions including royalties, tax on profits and income tax, Suriname has the option to buy shares in the event of an oil strike.

The government has also designated Staatsolie as the coordinating agent for renewable energy projects in Suriname. While renewable energy sources hold great promise for the future, only feasible projects based on proven technology will be considered. In 2008, several options for producing biofuel in Suriname were evaluated and Staatsolie decided to explore the possibilities for the production of biofuel from sugarcane. Staatsolie started a pilot sugarcane cultivation project in 2010 to determine which sugarcane varieties result in the best yield per hectare and contain the highest percentage of fermentable sugars for the production of ethanol.

The pilot sugarcane cultivation project has yielded encouraging results so far, while industrial and agricultural studies, as well as an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, will continue for the remainder of the year.

Staatsolie is also developing hydropower. The company plans to build the TapaJai
hydro-plant in 2013 to harness the power of Blommenstein Lake and two feeder rivers. Another hydro-energy project, forecast to be completed in 2014-15, will add 60 megawatts to the generating capacity of the Afobaka Dam.