Guyana’s Head of State, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has indicated that oil and gas collaboration is one of the many topics up for discussion with the Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, who will be leading a high-level delegation to Guyana for a four-day visit from August 17 – 20.
President Santokhi as well as Suriname’s First Lady Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry and a delegation comprising Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation, Ambassador Albert Ramdin; Minister of Natural Resources, David Abiamofo; Minister of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Parmanand Sewdien; Minister of Public Works, Riad Nurmohamed; Minister of Transport, Communication and Tourism, Albert Jubithana; representatives of Suriname’s national oil company Staatsolie, and members from the Surinamese private sector are set to land in Guyana on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, President Ali told the media that Santokhi’s visit is a continuation of the two countries fortifying its bilateral ties.
“The two countries both have small populations, similar challenges and similar opportunities,” Ali indicated to the press. “We have to see how we can merge our thinking and make sure that our policies reflect that integrated approach to bring betterment for the people of the two countries. Some areas of discussion include infrastructure, transportation, human resources capacity and capability, trade, security, agriculture, removing barriers for our people, including oil and gas are key areas of focus.”
In August 2020, Presidents Ali and Santokhi committed to collaborating in the oil and gas sector. Specific attention on preparing citizens to reap the full benefits of the oil and gas operations in the respective countries was one of the areas of discussion.
Like Guyana, Suriname has made a series of oil discoveries in its waters. Just in July, TotalEnergies and Apache Corporation encountered oil in the Sapakara South-1 well on Block 58 off the coast of Suriname. This announcement followed previous discoveries at Maka Central, Sapakara West, Kwaskwasi and Keskesi.
In the case of Guyana, ExxonMobil has made 22 discoveries totalling more than nine billion oil-equivalent barrels, with its latest discovery being Whiptail 1 and 2.
Notably, ExxonMobil has been focusing its investments on the prolific Stabroek block, which analysts say has the potential to catapult Guyana to the world’s largest producer per capita. ExxonMobil envisions at least six projects online by 2027 and sees potential for up to 10 projects to develop its current recoverable resource base.
President Santokhi’s official visit follows President Ali’s visit to the Republic of Suriname in November 2020, during which the two Presidents launched the Guyana-Suriname Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform (SDCP).
Under this committee, the two Presidents are set to review the progress made thus far in the areas of Foreign Policy Coordination and political dialogue, environment, health, immigration, customs, security and private sector enhancement.
The two Presidents will also discuss priority issues on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) agenda as well as the economic and social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on their countries.