Border dispute could cost Guyana and Suriname a fortune in oil revenues

Jul 04, 2000 02:00 AM

An increasingly strident border dispute could cost both Guyana and Suriname a fortune in oil revenues and kill the Caribbean's most promising exploration, officials of a Canadian oil company said at a regional summit.
CGX Energy's rig was ready to start drilling a month ago when Surinamese military moved in on boats and ordered it away, since the site is in disputed waters at the mouth of the Corentyne River on South America's north-east coast. Suriname says the border extends from the river at a 10-degree angle; Guyana says it's a 24-degree angle.
Borger Breeveld said his country was not open to a Guyanese proposal to share the profits from the oil but leave the border where it is. "Sharing the oil would set a precedent. Next time Guyana will come up with the same thing," Breeveld said. "Suriname wants to settle the border issue once and for all."
Kelly Sully, president of the Toronto company, said the company could decide to postpone exploration under its 10-year concession in Guyana for several years until the issue is settled. He said the exploration could benefit Suriname as well because the disputed area is key to unlocking the entire Suriname-Guyana basin - which the US Geological Survey estimates holds 15 bn barrels in oil reserves, more than 1 % of the estimated world total. The disputed area itself could hold 850 mm barrels, producing about 200,000 bpd and earning about $ 2 bn a year, the company believes.
That would not put Guyana on par with nearby Venezuela and Mexico, which together produce more than 3 mm bpd. But it would double the output of the Caribbean's current petroleum leader, Trinidad and Tobago, and dramatically affect Guyana.

Source: AP
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