Tullow, Statoil tie up Suriname deal

Suriname state oil company Staatsolie signed a 30-year deal with Britain's Tullow Oil and Norway's Statoil on Thursday to invest $35 million in the exploration of an offshore oil block, according to a report.

Tullow will operate Block 54, which covers roughly 8800 square kms (3.3 square miles) some 200 kilometers (124 miles) off the Suriname coast, Staatsolie said according to Reuters.

Under the production-sharing contract, the two foreign partners will spend about $35 million during the first three years to gather and study three-dimensional seismic data, as well as analyze other data already collected by Staatsolie, the news wire said.

Suriname's state oil company has the option to participate in development and production with a stake of up to 20% if enough commercially exploitable oil is discovered.

Tullow Oil is already working in Suriname, where it has stakes in two offshore blocks. Staatsolie produces about 16,000 barrels of oil a day.

The agreement is Staatsolie's tenth production-sharing contract. It is also working offshore with companies including Chevron and Apache of the US and Petronas of Malaysia.

Global energy firms are increasingly interested in the oil potential of South America's northeastern shoulder.

A 2011 discovery off the coast of nearby French Guiana was described as a "game changer" for the region's crude prospects.

An earlier version of this story misstated the area of the block in question.

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