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Offshore oil bonanza poses existential threat for coastal communities, Suriname

TotalEnergies wants to extract oil offshore Suriname and pay to greenwash their operation with a dubious forest protection scheme. Local and international organisations want to keep the oil in the ground.


In January 2020, TotalEnergies and Apache announced a significant oil discovery in Block 58 offshore Suriname. The find was commensurate with discoveries in the nearby Stabroek block offshore Guyana and sparked hopes for an oil bonanza in the country [1]. The oil companies continued exploring for oil with new wells and have since announced 5 successful drills, the latest in February 2022 [2]. Two further exploratory wells have failed to find commercial reserves in the block [3]. For now there is no clear development plan for the reserves, and the Final Investment Decision has been pushed forward to 2023 [4].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Offshore oil bonanza poses existential threat for coastal communities, Suriname
State or province:Offshore Suriname
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The first well was drilled at a water depth of 1000 metres and contained 123m net pay of high-quality light oil and gas [1]. The latest and fifth find in the block was obtained at a water depth of 780 metres and found 90m of net pay oil and gas [2]. With data from the three first oil exploration wells, Morgan Stanley estimates that Block 58 could contain up to 6.5bn barrels of oil equivalent [10].

Project area:567,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project10,000,000,000
Type of populationUnknown
Start of the conflict:01/01/2020
Company names or state enterprises:Staatsolie from Suriname - It has up to 20% participation rights in the joint-venture at development approval stage
Apache Corp. from United States of America - Owns 50% of the joint-venture with rights over Block 58. Operated the joint-venutre for the first three exploration wells.
TotalEnergies (TE) from France - Operates and owns 50% of the joint-venture with rights over Block 58
International and Finance InstitutionsInternational Monetary Fund (FMI)
World Bank (WB)
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-ProBios
- urgewald
- BankTrack
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Oil spills, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsLoss of natural defences against sea level rise
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Other socio-economic impactsExacerbating the national debt and increasing taxes to the non-oil sectors of the economy
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Proposal and development of alternatives:Local organisation Probios demand rich countries to pay compensation to Suriname for protecting biodiversity and carbon stocks, while leaving the oil in the ground [7].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The plans for oil exploration and exploitation in Suriname continue untouched.
Sources & Materials

[1] TotalEnergies Press Release. 07/01/2020. Suriname: Total and Apache Make Significant Discovery in Block 58.
[click to view]

[2] TotalEnergies Press Release. 21/02/2022.Suriname: TotalEnergies announces another significant discovery in Block 58.
[click to view]

[3] Soni, R. 28/11/2022. APA ends drilling at Awari oil well off Suriname coast. In Reuters.
[click to view]

[4] Dey, S. 19/0/2022. Delay in Suriname FID shows TotalEnergies hesitant to fully commit to country – AMI analyst. In OilNow.
[click to view]

[5] EITI Suriname Portal. Overview of the economic development. Visited on 29/11/2022
[click to view]

[6] EITI Suriname Profile. Visited on 29/11/2022
[click to view]

[7] Bijl, R. Keep it in the ground: Erlan Sleur. In Down to Earth. Visited on 29/11/2022.
[click to view]

[8] Mainhardt H., Urgewald 08/02/2022. Suriname’s oil development made possible by IMF, IDB and World Bank public finance.
[click to view]

[9] Beenes, M. 24/11/2021. Total’s deal with Suriname: the greenwashing of oil Block 58. In BankTrack webpage.
[click to view]

[10] OilNow. 05/08/2020. Suriname’s Block 58 could hold 6.5 billion barrels of oil – Morgan Stanley.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJAtlas team. MLP
Last update06/12/2022
Conflict ID:6192
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