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)