The discovery of a major hydrocarbon occurrence in the Guiana Basin, offshore Suriname: a blessing or a curse?


  • Theo E. Wong Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Department of Geosciences
  • Lucia van Geuns The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS)


Petroleum geology, Guiana Basin, Governance, Carbon Risk


For many years the petroleum prospectivity of the offshore part of the Guiana Basin was considered to be rather low, but innovative research and improved exploration and exploitation techniques opened new frontiers. Based on the similar configuration of the oil-bearing deposits in the offshore realm of Ghana and Ivory Coast, exploration moved to the unexplored offshore areas of northern Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname.  The recent oil discoveries in the deep-water area of the Guiana Basin in French Guiana and especially in Guyana have sparked an increase in exploration campaigns in this basin. Ultimately this led to the first major oil discovery offshore Suriname as announced on January 7th, 2020 by Apache Corporation and Total S.A. The future management of significant oil and gas resources and revenues will be a challenge for Suriname. Effective institutions, policies and procedures are needed to prevent the resource curse. The set-up of a sovereign wealth fund to protect for high volatility of hydrocarbon prices and carbon risk is to be considered. As large-scale oil and gas projects last for decades, scenario analyses with climate-resilient growth and with implementing Suriname’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement in mind is recommended.