Suriname eyes local content provisions, seeks to learn from Guyana
By Vishani Ragobeer in Suriname
Suriname is developing its oil and gas industry following significant finds offshore and the country is hoping to learn from Guyana’s local content pursuits so that it can guarantee that Surinamese adequately benefit from the industry.
At the ongoing oil and gas summit in Suriname’s capital city Paramaribo, much time has been dedicated to discussing the pros and cons of local content regulations or potentially, a new local content law.
Dennis Pello, the Manager of the Local Content Development Taskforce at Staatsolie – Suriname’s oil company – says that there are several options to consider.
The country can seek to promote joint ventures, work exclusively with “established and experienced” companies or grant concessions to foreign companies providing they maximise local purchases and employment.
He, however, emphasised that the country should pursue the option that augurs the most benefits for the Surinamese, considering the knowledge and skills gaps that may exist.
Already, though, the country has been paying keen attention to how developments have unfolded in Guyana, particularly on the local content front.
Pello said that Guyanese have already been able to benefit from large companies moving operations to Guyana to get more locals involved.
Jumpers (underwater pipes used in oil production), for example, are now being produced in Guyana. The Staatsolie Manager noted that these equipment were previously produced in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Why should we not do that here in Suriname?” Pello asked during his presentation at the summit.
Guyana, at the end of 2021, enacted its local content law, a key piece of legislation that provides a delicate balance between the use of foreign and local services, and partnerships between foreign and local companies.
At the summit, one Guyanese company – Guyana Logistics and Support Services Inc. (GLASS) – outlined how it was able to partner with a foreign investor and capitalise on opportunities in the oil and gas sector.
Because the oil and gas sector is so capital intensive, the company’s Managing Director Glenn Low-A-Chee said that it found a “strategic finance partner” in a Candian company that was willing to invest in GLASS.
Establishing such partnerships can be done through local content provisions and this is a key consideration for Suriname now that the country is moving beyond onshore oil production, toward producing oil from prolific Guyana- Suriname basin offshore.
“We all know – the Suriname-Guyana basin is hot, very hot…and there are a lot of opportunities.
“It will create a lot of opportunities, fast-growing demand for goods, services and manpower for the oil and gas industry,” Pello also underscored.
Suriname expects to present a draft local content policy sometime this year. And it is envisioned that this will help guide how more locals are integrated into the expanding sector.
At the summit’s opening ceremony on Monday, however, the Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santoki called on investors and developers from within the Caribbean community to invest in Suriname but he emphasised that partnerships with Surinamese must be a priority.