Guyana’s oil “too light” for Suriname’s refinery

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Rudolf Elias, the Managing Director of Suriname’s state- owned oil company Staatsolie, has said that Suriname’s oil refinery is not built to handle the type of oil that would be extracted from Guyana, thereby refuting statements made by Guyana’s Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman that the Dutch-speaking country was interested in processing Guyana’s oil.

Speaking to de Ware Tijd, an online newspaper in Suriname, Elias said, “The refinery is not built to handle the type of oil that is (to be) extracted in Guyana. Their oil is a much lighter quality, our refinery was built for the heavy oil that we have landed here in Suriname”.
Elias added that should Suriname discover in its deep sea area the type of light quality oil that is in Guyana, “it will also not be processed in our refinery.”

Noting that another problem is the shallow nature of Suriname’s coast, he said Guyana will produce such large quantities of oil – three hundred thousand barrels per day – that gigantic tankers will be needed to transport this oil, as those can carry up to half a million barrels. Such large vessels cannot even moor at Suriname’s shores, let alone sail the Suriname River to reach its refinery, the oil company’s director said.

In fact, he said, a unique feature between the two countries is that in Guyana sand washes up from the Amazon Jungle and makes rivers and coastal areas very shallow, whilst Suriname’s sandbanks reach more than forty kilometres into the sea.

Guyana’s Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman
Guyana’s Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman

He added that it is impossible to dredge a course to allow large oil tankers access to Suriname’s refineries. Guyana suffers from the same shallow coastline problem, making it unprofitable to build a large refinery.

Elias said it would not be wise for Guyana to invest more than two billion US dollars into construction of an expensive refinery which would be in operation for a limited number of years.  According to Elias, the Staatsolie refinery can process up to fifteen thousand barrels of oil per day. He said the company produces more on a daily basis, thus leaving little or no room for processing oil from other countries.

Managing Director of Staatsolie, Rudolf Elias
Managing Director of Staatsolie, Rudolf Elias

Elias assured that sufficient reserves of heavy oil remains off-shore in Suriname to keep the refinery at Tout Lui Error profitable.

During a meeting with the media and Country Manager of the United States Oil Giant ExxonMobil last Thursday, Minister Trotman said while Government was considering the establishment of an oil refinery here, both Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname had indicated their interest in carrying out such work for Guyana.

He added, however, that no official agreement has been made between Guyana and Suriname in this regard. (Guyana Times)

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