Push local content, don’t forget about Suriname’s other sectors – Business Development CEO 

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Shikema Dey
Experienced Journalist with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry and a keen interest in oil and gas, energy, public infrastructure, agriculture, social issues, development and the environment.

Paramaribo, Suriname – In an interview at the recent Suriname Energy Oil & Gas Summit, Ileana Ferber, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Colibri Business Development urged the South American nation to balance local content development alongside the growth of its offshore oil and gas sector.

Ferber, with her extensive experience in the energy industry, working with ExxonMobil for over 24 years, began by highlighting the mission behind Colibri Business Development, a consulting firm based in Houston, Texas. “I created Colibri as a way to support stakeholders beyond major international companies… There’s a crucial need to enhance capacity among governments, small suppliers, and academia in fostering local content,” she said.

Ferber is a Local Content Subject Matter Expert (SME) who provides advice on local content policies and regulations. She specializes in helping governments build capacity in the local workforce, and in acting as a connector between industry associations, the private sector, NGOs, and academia. 

Addressing Suriname’s energy sector, Ferber urged a balanced approach. “It’s not just about oil and gas. Suriname must diversify its economic base to avoid overdependence on any one industry.” 

She added, “With its vast natural resources and strategic location within CARICOM, Suriname can develop multiple sectors simultaneously.” 

Suriname assures oil companies of stable business environment as reserves mount | OilNOW 

Drawing from her career spanning from Venezuela to ExxonMobil in Houston, Ferber stressed the significance of knowledge transfer from international firms to local entities.

“I’ve seen firsthand the impact of effective local content policies,” she said. “It’s about creating sustainable growth by leveraging expertise and resources within the country.” 

Having engaged extensively with Suriname’s local businesses and stakeholders, Ferber highlighted the importance of collaboration. “I believe in partnering with local companies to build capacity. This isn’t just about creating jobs; it’s about empowering Surinamese professionals to lead in their own industry.” 

Ferber shared insights from her recent masterclass at the Summit, underscoring the need for Suriname to allow its industry to mature naturally. “A local content policy that evolves with the sector is key. Moreover, integrating with other sectors like mining can create synergies that benefit the entire economy,” she pointed out.  

Suriname’s first offshore development project is pegged at US$9 billion and will be executed by TotalEnergies alongside APA Corporation. Both hold 50% shares in Block 58. Total is the operator. A final investment decision (FID) is expected to be issued before the end of the year. 

Currently, Suriname’s resource count stands at 4.6 billion oil-equivalent barrels according to Wood Mackenzie. A significant portion of this is gas. Alongside Suriname’s first oil development, a possible gas project is being considered by Petronas which operates Block 52. Discoveries have been made there, two of which hold the potential to see a 100,000-barrel-per-day development.


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