It appears that exploration activity is picking up in the Guyana/Suriname basin with major works being driven by state-owned oil company Staatsolie and Inpex (Teikoku).

Suriname is relatively new to hydrocarbons and first struck oil in 1980s. Since then, the country has steadily been growing their reserves and attracting new project activity, mainly in the upstream.

The Suriname playing field is both onshore and offshore. Staatsolie is the sole onshore operator and owner of the national refinery, while companies active in the Suriname offshore are mainly international and include Apache, Tullow, Inpex (Teikoku), Murphy Oil, Kosmos and Petronas.

These companies are engaged in the exploration phase at the moment, rather than production and operation.

Staatsolie has a number of projects set to be completed by 2030. While onshore, nearshore and deepwater projects are developing, Staatsolie continues to focus on the onshore and nearshore blocks as a strategy to maintain its reserves through 2020.

In 2014, it Staatsolie announced plans to resume nearshore exploration activity in Block 4 and indicated that nine exploratory wells would make up their drilling programme in this block.

Well Services Petroleum of Trinidad and Tobago received a three-year contract to execute the work programme and will be managed by a Staatsolie subsidiary, Paradise Oil Company.

Staatsolie has been conducting seismic surveys on land as well as in rivers in its wetland areas. They are trying to attract experienced international oil companies (IOCs) to operate in these onshore blocks.

Increased activity at Suriname's national oil company Staatsolie is driving E&P projects in the Guyana/Suriname basin. Photo courtesy Staatsolie

Increased activity at Suriname's national oil company Staatsolie is driving E&P projects in the Guyana/Suriname basin. Photo courtesy Staatsolie

Staatsolie also recently completed an international bid round for Blocks 58, 59 and 60 and signed a 30-year production sharing contract for the deepwater Block 58 with Apache, a Houston, Texas-based company through its Suriname subsidiary.

Earlier in 2015, Apache also began drilling in Block 53, another deepwater well, in collaboration with CEPSA, which has a 25 percent stake in the block. CEPSA, a Spanish company, is working with Apache to carry out the exploration phase. Geological surveys and the drilling of two wells are slated for completion before April 2016.

Canadian firm CGX signed an agreement with Inpex and Petronas to share exploration costs in Suriname, including the cost of rigs. This three-way arrangement will be the first drilling contract for the new Hakuryu rig, which was built in January by the Japan Drilling Company.

Among other companies, Tullow Oil already holds three licenses in Suriname, with an acreage of more than 16,400 sq/km. Tullow plans to drill one exploratory well in Q2/Q3 2015 in Block 31, of which Inpex transferred 30 percent participating interest in the block to Tullow in 2013.

Tullow has also submitted an environmental impact assessment to conduct a 3-D seismic survey in Block 54.

With exploration picking up in Suriname, new discoveries will add to the country’s proven and probable reserves. And deepwater exploration in the basin is an exciting development for the Caribbean region triggering hopes of a large find.