October 4, 2019 / 6:32 PM / 19 days ago

Suriname's state oil firm signs production-sharing deal with Columbus

PARAMARIBO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Suriname’s state-owned oil firm said on Friday it had signed a production-sharing agreement for the onshore Weg Naar Zee (WNZ) block with Britain-based oil and gas exploration company Columbus Energy Resources.

In a statement, the company, Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname, said the two firms had signed a 30-year agreement which would carry out a “minimum exploration program” in the 90,100-hectare block during the first seven years.

“For Columbus, WNZ is a low-cost, low-risk entry into a block with an estimated 24 million barrels in a proven hydrocarbon province,” Columbus Executive Chairman Leo Koot said in a separate news release.

Oil discoveries in neighboring Guyana have led to optimism in Suriname that the same formations continue across the border into the former Dutch colony, which has a population under 600,000.

Staatsolie has already signed production-sharing agreements with Exxon Mobil Corp and Tullow Oil Plc.

Suriname has not made any commercially viable offshore oil discoveries so far. Exxon has discovered more than 5 billion barrels of oil in Guyana and expects to start producing next year. (Reporting by Ank Kuipers in Paramaribo Writing by Angus Berwick Editing by Paul Simao)

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