Suriname has been described as the next big thing in the offshore oil and gas exploration world, as its proximity to Guyana where ExxonMobil has discovered around 10 billion barrels of oil so far has led oil companies, including ExxonMobil, to hope there’s similar riches to be found in the Surinamese waters, too.

However, while the likes of TotalEnergies, Apache, and ExxonMobil, Petronas partnerships have made a few discoveries there, with the former even pondering a deployment of an FPSO, Tullow Oil hasn’t been so lucky, and the company said Wednesday it would be leaving Suriname.

Earlier this year, Tullow Oil, using the Stena Forth drillship, drilled the Goliathberg Voltzberg North-1 (GVN-1) exploration well, targeting 235 million barrels of oil.

However, during the first quarter of 2021, Tullow’s partner in the Block 47, Ratio Petroleum reported that the well encountered only minor oil shows.

“Following the GVN-1 well result, the JV partners have notified the Government of Suriname that they have elected not to enter into the next phase of Block 47, and Tullow will exit this licence on 31 December 2021. Tullow has also decided to exit Block 54 at year-end,” Tullow said Wednesday.

Block 47, which spans 2,350 square kilometers at sea depths ranging between 1,300-3,000 meters, and was estimated by NSAI to contain 927 million barrels of oil in three different prospects (including the GVN-1 prospect).

Tullow holds a 50% share of the rights in the block, Pluspetrol holds 30% and Ratio Petroleum holds 20%.

Back in 2017, Tullow drilled the Araku-1 exploration well in Suriname in Block 54. The well, drilled to a total depth of 2,685 meters using the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, came up dry.Image Credit: Tullow Oil

TotalEnergies: Mixed results

Elsewhere in Suriname, APA, a parent company of Apache, TotalEnergies’ partner in the Block 58, where the duo has made several oil finds in recent period said Wednesday that its Bonboni-1 offshore exploration well in the northern portion of the block had encountered sub-commercial oil volumes and will be plugged and abandoned. Meanwhile, the partners have completed “a successful” flow test at the Sapakara South-1 find.

“Flow and subsequent pressure build-up tests were recently completed at Sapakara South-1 (SPS-1), an appraisal well drilled earlier this year on the eastern edge of Sapakara nearly 4 kilometers from the discovery well. As disclosed earlier this year, SPS-1 encountered approximately 30 meters (98 feet) of net black oil pay in a single zone of high-quality Campano-Maastrichtian reservoir,” APA said.

“A restricted flow test averaged 4,800 barrels oil per day (bopd) for 48 hours. Without flow restrictions, a development well would produce at a significantly higher sustained rate,” APA added. The JV will now move the Maersk Valiant drillship to drill the Krabdagu exploration prospect, located 18 kilometers east of SPS-1.

APA also said it would mobilize the Noble Gerry de Souza drillship to Block 53 off Suriname in early in 2022, where it has one committed well and options for two additional wells. Apache drilled the Kolibrie-1 well in Block 53 in 2017, but failed to hit commercial hydrocarbons.

Seismic Surveys

Also, a consortium of marine seismic data companies has recently started a 3D seismic survey offshore Suriname using the BGP Prospector seismic vessel.

The start-up of the survey comes after three marine seismic data acquisition and processing companies TGS, CGG, and BGP last month signed a multi-client agreement with Suriname’s national oil firm Staatsolie.

The consortium will be able to acquire, market, and license multi-client seismic programs in the shallow water acreage offshore Suriname, including fresh 3D collection and historic data reprocessing.

This 3D survey is adjacent to the prolific Block 58 and will cover the up-dip portions of the same Upper Cretaceous channel systems proven successful recently.

The first phase of the survey includes 11,100 square kilometers of new 3D seismic data acquisition and 3,000 square kilometers of 3D seismic data reprocessing.

Suriname’s shallow offshore acreage includes three blocks recently awarded, and current open acreage is scheduled to be offered in a competitive bid round for 2023. 

Also in Suriname, the country’s state oil company Staatsolie in October signed a 30-year production sharing contract with U.S. producer Chevron Corp for the offshore Block 5.

Chevron and a consortium by TotalEnergies and Qatar Petroleum in June filed winning bids for shallow-water exploration in Blocks 5, 6, and 8 in a lease sale by Staatsolie. The obligation for the winning firms is to carry out new 3D seismic data surveys in the first exploration phase with a drill-or-drop decision before drilling in subsequent phases.

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