History of Hydrocarbon Industry

The Hydrocarbon industry started in the late 1920’s, when the entire coastal plain area was investigated through shallow drilling (<1500 m), with the GMD, Shell and Elf as main operators. These activities did not result in a commercial discovery, even though a number of Hydrocarbon occurrences were found in the 1960’s. Hydrocarbon was struck while drilling for drinking water wells in the district of Saramacca. But the environment in Suriname was not ideal to build on the Hydrocarbon discoveries.

Between 1970 and 1983 offshore, a number of seismic surveys were executed, and 18 wells were drilled. Operators were Gulf Hydrocarbon, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Elf-Acquitaine. While most of the wells were in shallow water, and of limited penetration depth, a few very daring and costly wells were completed in this period. The ExxonMobil A-2 well was drilled in 1200m deep water to 4200m depth while North Coroni-1 set the depth record in Suriname waters at 5,406m.

With the establishment of Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname NV (Staatsolie) on December 13, 1980, a big step was made in the development of an Hydrocarbon industry. Staatsolie was to execute the new Hydrocarbon policy on behalf of the Republic of Suriname (the sole shareholder). According to the concession agreement Decree E-8B (Official Gazette 1981 no 59) Staatsolie was granted exclusive rights to hydrocarbons. This right was later confirmed in the Mining Decree (Official Gazette 1986 no 8).

Only State-owned enterprises can get the mining rights for hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbon and gas companies can operate in Suriname through a petroleum agreement with Staatsolie.

In 1980, in order to gain the necessary knowledge and experience, the first Managing Director, decided to exploit the Hydrocarbon discoveries in Saramacca. After a successful drilling campaign, the first commercial production started on November 25,1982. From then on, many milestones were reached.

Staatsolie is a vertically integrated energy company which has 4 subsidiaries and has invested in the gold mining industry:

  • Ventrin Petroleum Company Limited, a Trinidad-based bunkering company (sole owner);
  • GOw2 Energy Suriname N.V., a subsidiary through which Staatsolie has entered the retail market in 2011 (sole owner);
  • Paradise Hydrocarbon Company N.V., a company for carrying out exploration and production activities in cooperation with third parties (sole owner);
  • Staatsolie Power Company Suriname N.V. (SPCS), a thermal plant (sole owner);
  • A 25% percent interest in Merian Gold Mine operated by Newmont Suriname.
Overview of E&P Blocks

Figure 3.6 Overview of E&P Blocks. (source Staatsolie)


Staatsolie has focused on exploration of the nearshore blocks based on data gathered till 2015. In block 4 a geological and geophysical evaluation was carried out in 2016. Additional drilling is required before economical volumes can be realized.

As the nearshore activities will start a close cooperation with the Maritieme Authoriteit Suriname (Maritime Authority Suriname) will be requested as well for e.g. security and monitoring and technical purposes.


The offshore area is demarcated in blocks. Staatsolie acts as an agent of the Republic of Suriname with respect to the oversight and contracting in the petroleum industry. Staatsolie has been granted the exclusive right to explore for, develop and produce petroleum onshore and offshore. O&G companies interested in executing petroleum operations in Suriname can do so based on Article 5 of Petroleum Law 1990 (SB 1991/ 7). According to this article Staatsolie can sign petroleum agreements with third parties after approval from the MONR. Through the petroleum agreement, Staatsolie transfers its rights to explore, develop and produces hydrocarbons in a contract area (Block) to a contractor (IOC).

As of December 31, 2016, the Hydrocarbon companies operating in Suriname are:

Hydrocarbon companies Law/regulations Dec 31, 2016
Staatsolie Decree E-8B (SB 1981 no 59)/ authorization act 1981 to establish Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname N.V. Petroleum act 1990 See figure 3.13
Kosmos Energy Suriname PSC 42 and 45
Teikoku Hydrocarbon Suriname (TOS) PSC
Apache Suriname Corporation LLC PSC 53 and 58
Petronas Suriname E & P B.V. PSC 48 and 52
Tullow Suriname B.V. PSC 47 and 54

Table 3.3 Overview Hydrocarbon companies /Law/ Fields

The offshore companies are in their exploration phase as per December 31, 2016.

Teikoku Hydrocarbon Suriname (TOS), a subsidiary of the Japanese Inpex, performed exploration drilling in block 31. At the end of the exploration period, the operator did not establish a commercial field and TOS decided to withdraw from Block 31 and the PSC with TOS was terminated in August 2016.