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Business News/ News / World/  Suriname to host Indian energy majors in June

The South American nation of Suriname is hosting an oil and gas conference from June 19 to 23 in hopes of attracting energy companies, particularly from India, according to persons aware of the matter.

According to some estimates, Suriname is thought to have at least 3-4 billion barrels of oil reserves which were discovered in recent years.

While American and European energy companies currently dominate the energy market in Suriname, the country's officials are interested in bringing in Indian companies and expertise. A query mailed to the ministry of external affairs remained unanswered at press time.

Major firms like ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total have been active in drilling for energy off the coast of Suriname, which is located on the northeastern coast of South America. Invitations have been extended to Indian energy majors although an exact list of attendees has not been finalised. India has demonstrated an increased interest in Latin America and the Caribbean for its energy needs. India imports roughly 85% of its crude oil requirements from abroad. In the aftermath of the war in Ukraine, New Delhi has looked to diversify its supply of energy. For example, Indian oil companies have signed long-term contracts with Brazil’s Gazprom and Colombia’s EcoPetrol.

Guyana, which borders Suriname, has seen heightened Indian interest after a major oil discovery in 2015 by ExxonMobil that saw it acquire the 17th largest oil reserves in the world. Guyana is estimated to have oil reserves of 11 billion barrels. According to Guyana’s vice-president Bharrat Jagdeo, India and Guyana have discussed oil and gas cooperation in great depth.

“We don’t want India’s involvement only in defining our gas policy, but also from an investment perspective to develop those resources," Jagdeo said in an interview with Mint in February this year.

While much Indian interest has been focused on Guyana, Suriname hopes that this conference will help attract Indian energy firms to its oil finds. Suriname is banking on the attractive conditions it offers energy majors from longer term rights to lower royalties.

Suriname’s cultural familiarity with India may be another key reason for its decision to woo Indian energy majors. Suriname is home to a large Indian diaspora. India’s ministry of external affairs estimated that about 37% of the country’s population is of Indian descent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Suriname’s president Chandrikapersad Santokhi discussed the prospect of oil and gas cooperation in January this year. Santokhi was invited to India as a Special Guest of Honour for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Indore.

“In their meeting, both leaders held discussions on cooperation in areas of mutual interest including hydrocarbons, defence, maritime security, digital initiatives and ICT, and capacity building," according to a press release by PIB.

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Updated: 31 May 2023, 10:40 PM IST
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