(Caribbean Maritime) In 2020, amid the worldwide Covid-19-induced economic downturn, Suriname reached second place, only behind Russia, in terms of discovered oil and gas reserves. And all this from just one offshore find in Block 58, and without counting a first promising recent discovery in Block 52.
Major stakeholders, including the Government of Suriname, have committed themselves to the commencement of commercial offshore oil production within the next five years. As such, dedicated port facilities are required to address the needs of the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industries, as they steadily ramp up their operations. Furthermore, and to secure maximized local industry involvement in the sector – involvement that could basically equal national income from direct oil revenues – dedicated port facilities will be required, of which to date, Suriname has none.
In broad terms, and through such a shore base port facility, it’s estimated that more than US$ 12 billion in local revenue can be generated over the next 25 years from activities in offshore Block 58 alone.
Within five years, the Suriname offshore oil and gas sector is projected to create at least 2,000 local jobs, of which a minimum of 250 will be directly employed at a shore base port facility, with countless more in supporting industries and businesses. At the same time, a local shore base significantly benefits operations at sea by cutting up to four days off the duration of a round trip when compared to the use of Trinidad as a location for operations.
So, this is the reason Commewijne Port Facility (ComPort) NV is being set up in Suriname to specifically address the needs of the offshore oil and gas sector, to progressively expand with the industry as is needed, and to maximize the creation of local content and participation in the emerging Surinamese offshore energy sector. ComPort has been established by a group of local entrepreneurs, with close to 60 years cumulative leadership experience in engineering, construction, marine operations, building materials and finance.
ComPort is located in the wide estuary of the Suriname and Commewijne rivers, close to the Suriname river fairway and the Atlantic coast, with ample surrounding real estate for shore base expansion and for establishing a zone for industry dedicated to offshore supplies and services.
Unfortunately, much of Suriname’s Atlantic coastline and its other major rivers are extremely shallow. And the sheer amount of continuous dredging required to make a port of this size and scope work, renders most of these potential locations less than economically viable.
Suriname’s existing harbor facilities, can, at most, only be upgraded to service the first phase of offshore oil production, and with a single FPSO. In neighboring Guyana, within the first year of oil production, two additional FPSOs have already been commissioned, and port facilities are projected to double, if not triple, in capacity, within the first five years of operation, as the total number of offshore production wells steadily increases.
ComPort has been specifically designed to allow for much greater vessel draft in the future than is currently feasible with the existing Suriname River fairway depth. In fact, the quay design allows increased vessel draft after additional dredging up to 9.5 meters.
ComPort has commissioned a design for the first phase of port facilities on 50 acres of prime real estate already secured for the project, including a large area of water-front property. Acquisition of additional real estate for future expansion is well under way.
The proposed first phase of the shore base is to include two berths, heavy duty paved laydown and open-storage areas, heavy lifting equipment, water and waste treatment facilities, potable water and fuel bunkering, wash bays, warehouses for storage and construction services, offices, helipad, customs and medical facilities, and ample space reserved for drilling fluid production. With a substantial part of the engineering work already completed and the port permit secured, the current projected timeline for first-phase completion is Q4 2022 and thereby addressing the growing need for dedicated offshore oil and gas port services for both exploration and production operations.
In the meantime, ComPort’s Serge Tijn Wong Joe told Caribbean Maritime that expressions of interest to partner and to participate in the realization and operation of its shore base port facility are welcome.
The future for the Surinamese economy looks bright and ComPort is striving to play a considerable part, along with all major stakeholders, in ensuring that the nation has the necessary infrastructure to meet the anticipated demand from the oil and gas sector.
Suriname is already the location for two privately held ports – Traymore-operated Moengo on the Cottica River and the 400-meter length multipurpose Kuldipsingh Port Facility, which can also accommodate offshore support vessels.