Staatsolie Launches Tender for 3 Offshore Blocks

Suriname's state oil company Staatsolie has launched its 2006 international bid round for three exploration blocks in the southeast of the country's offshore territory in the Suriname-Guyana Basin, the company said in a statement.

Staatsolie has called for bids on the 2,552-sq km block 15, the 3,407-sq km block 36 and the 8,758-sq km block 37.

The deadline to submit bids for the blocks is July 2 and bids must be accompanied by a company profile, technical and financial reports for the last two years and the company's latest audit report, the statement said.

Staatsolie plans to award the blocks by August 2 and sign the production sharing contracts (PSCs) in September 2006, the statement said.

Details of the contract model will not be available until February 1, but the winners will have a controlling interest, Staatsolie E&P contracts manager Marny Daal-Vogelland told BNamericas.

A data package of 2D seismic acquired and processed by Staatsolie in 2005 is available from January 1 for US$25,000, but interested companies are not obliged to purchase the data package, the statement said.

The company has mapped several leads indicated by the data that are more suggestive of oil reserves than gas, Daal-Vogelland said.

Prior to the 2D seismic evaluation, no exploration had been done on the area, she noted.

The company's 2005 activities, including the 2D seismic studies of these three offshore blocks as well as the discovery of the Tambaredjo Northwest onshore oil field, added 30 million barrels to the country's proven reserves, she said.

Staatsolie is planning the following promotional activities for the tender: NAPE, Houston, February 1-3; APPEX, London, March 6-9; AAPG, Houston, April 9-12.

The Suriname-Guyana basin is considered to be highly prospective for oil and gas as the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) estimates possible reserves in this basin of 15 billion barrels, the statement said.

"Direct evidence to support this claim can been seen in the onshore Tambaredjo field that has been producing since 1982 and recent discoveries in the Calcutta block," the statement said.

Only three of the country's 41 offshore blocks have been awarded to foreign firms, Daal-Vogelland said.

Spain's Repsol YPF (NYSE: REP) and Danish oil company Maersk Oil signed exploration agreements for blocks 30 and 31 respectively in 2004.

Repsol YPF operates block 30 with a 40% stake, while US oil firm Occidental (NYSE: OXY) and US oil firm Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) have 30% each.

The partners are spending some US$20mn on a 3D seismic survey covering 3,250 sq km to confirm leads from 2004 2D seismic results. They plan to drill a well by 2007, Daal-Vogelland said.

On block 31, Maersk has acquired 5,700km of 2D seismic data and is currently mapping its results.

Oxy was also awarded an exploration contract on block 32 in October 2005 and began a 3,500km 2D seismic study two weeks ago.

Current oil production in Suriname is 12,500 barrels a day, all of it onshore, Daal-Vogelland said.

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