Petronas Seeks Fiscal Incentives to Develop Suriname Gas Project

(Reuters) — Suriname should boost incentives for energy companies looking to develop oil and gas discoveries, said Zamri Baseri, head of Malaysia's Petronas in the South American country.

Baseri did not specify the incentives his company is looking for, but lower royalties and taxes, or commercial incentives often hasten investment decisions by energy companies.

Suriname expects that TotalEnergies and APA Corp. will make a final investment decision this year to proceed with its most promising offshore area, Block 58. The $9 billion oil project could be followed by neighboring areas, including Block 52 operated by Petronas and Exxon Mobil, where discoveries have been made.

In December, Petronas signed production sharing contracts with Suriname's state company Staatsolie for offshore blocks 63 and 64, after winning the areas in a bidding round.

"We need to speak to Statsolie on what kind of fiscal arrangements we can have, the commercial models we can have to make the project fly," Baseri told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of an energy conference in Trinidad and Tobago.

He said that project faces headwinds including Suriname's lack of offshore infrastructure and the relatively small size of discoveries made so far at Block 52.

Block 52, north of the coast of capital Paramaribo, belongs to the prospective Suriname-Guyana basin, where Exxon has confirmed more than 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil and gas on Guyana's side.

Petronas, TotalEnergies and Qatar Petroleum last year submitted a bid for an offshore block on offer in Guyana.

The results of the bidding round are expected later this year before contracts are awarded under a revamped fiscal regime that increased royalties and taxes in Guyana, which were among the region's lowest.

Petronas would like to export gas from Suriname's Block 52 to either Europe or the Americas using floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facilities, Baseri said.

"We have experience in developing stranded gas fields using our FLNG, so we would like to leverage on that," he added.

Trinidad also is in discussions with European countries to export Venezuelan gas, and possibly gas from Suriname too, Trinidad's Prime Minister Keith Rowley said on Monday.

Baseri said he was aware of the talks, but added that bordering issues could create obstacles for transporting Suriname's gas to Trinidad for processing into LNG.

"You have to cross a few borders and there will need to be a discussion among the governments first to allow this to happen" he said.

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