Petronas' Suriname Discovery Likely Big Enough for a 100,000 B/D FPSO

The latest successful drilling campaign brings Suriname’s discovered resources to over 2.4 billion bbl of oil, according to Wood Mackenzie.

The Noble Voyager drillship is under contract by Petronas in Suriname's Block 52.
Source: Noble Corp.

Petronas announced its third successful discovery this week in Suriname’s Block 52. The Fusaea-1 exploration well, located about 170 km offshore, encountered several oil- and gas-bearing sandstone intervals, according to the Malaysian national oil company.

The well was drilled to a total depth of 5227 m about 9 km east of a previous find, the Roystonea-1 well. Petronas said it is evaluating results from its latest well to determine the potential for a tie-in approach with the Sloanea-1 and Roystonea-1 wells, discovered in 2020 and 2023, respectively.

Datuk Adif Zulkifli, Petronas’ executive vice president and CEO of upstream, said in a statement, "The favorable results attained from the Fusaea-1 exploration well have solidified Petronas’ standing in Suriname for material hydrocarbon resource, following the Sloanea-1 and Roystonea-1 discoveries."

Petronas contracted the Noble Voyager, owned by Noble Corp., to drill the Fusaea well, which was spudded in February. In April, Petronas exercised an option to extend the contract for the seventh-generation drillship to drill at least one additional well in Block 52 at a day rate of $470,000, according to Noble Corp. This follow-up campaign is expected to last 70 days.

Block 52 spans nearly 4750 km2 and is operated by a subsidiary of Petronas with a 50% interest. The remaining 50% stake is held by ExxonMobil which approved the construction of a sixth FPSO for neighboring Guyana last month.

Petronas also operates Suriname’s Block 48 and Block 63 with a 100% interest and has a 30% nonoperating interest in Block 64.

Analysts at Wood Mackenzie reported that the recoverable resources from the Roystonea and Fusaea discoveries may approach 400 million bbl. The market research firm said such volumes could support the deployment of a floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) unit with a nameplate processing capacity of up to 100,000 B/D,

Additionally, Wood Mackenzie noted that US independent APA Corp. (parent company of Apache Corp.) and its nonoperating partners Petronas and Spain’s CEPSA drilled the Baja discovery well in 2022. In Block 53, this well is just 8 km north of the Roystonea well, suggesting that the operators may opt to include it in a cluster development.

Wood Mackenzie further speculates that the adjoining blocks' combined gas reserves of 2 Tcf along with high levels of associated gas from the Fusaea well could lead to a floating liquified natural gas project in the region by the early 2030s.

Commenting on Petronas' international exploration efforts Julie Wilson, the exploration research director for Wood Mackenzie, called Suriname "a bright spot" for the oil company and added that the South American nation "plays to Petronas' existing competencies in LNG development while providing oil to offset its LNG-weighted portfolio.”

Petronas’ recent success brings the total number of discoveries offshore Suriname to nine since 2019.

While no operator has yet sanctioned a project, TotalEnergies and its nonoperating partner APA are poised to make a final investment decision sometime this year on a proposed $9-billion development in Block 58 that would aim for first oil by 2028 with a peak output of 200,000 B/D. TotalEnergies said the development scheme for the 6262- km2 block would use an FPSO.

Additionally, Hess Corp. confirmed in regulatory filings last month that exploration operations will take place by year’s end on two Suriname blocks in which it holds an interest.

Adjacent to TotalEnergies’ large concession area, Block 42 is operated by Shell and it along with Chevron and Hess each hold a 33.3% interest. Directly to the north is Block 52, operated by ExxonMobil, with Equinor and Hess as partners, each holding a 33.3% share.

Based on the new offshore discoveries, Wood Mackenzie has increased its estimate of Suriname’s discovered resources to over 2.4 billion bbl of oil and liquids with another 12.5 Tcf of natural gas.

This compares to the more than 11 billion BOE (20–30% estimated to be gas) believed to be within Guyana's massive 26,000 km2 Stabroek block where ExxonMobil has made more than 30 discoveries since 2015.