Suriname national oil company could undergo partial privatisation
Staatsolie could be first national company of several from which Suriname government plans to divest shares.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Thursday July 26, 2012 – Reports are that Staatsolie, telecommunications firm Telesur and Surinam Airways, and the bank Hakrinbank, which is partly owned by the government, could all be privatised as the Surinamese government looks to cuts its ownership in each entity.
First up could be state oil company Staatsolie, which is considering selling stock through a partial privatisation similar to those carried out by state energy firms in Colombia and Brazil.
“Staatsolie wants to explore the possibility of issuing shares,” said the company’s general manager Marc Waaldijk in a statement. “The state can sell a minority of its shares and use the proceeds for high-priority national objectives,” he added.
The official said the government is preparing to conduct a study on a possible share offer in Staatsolie, which could help finance exploration of onshore and offshore areas that have drawn the interest of overseas oil companies. Suriname will likely approach any stock sale with caution given that a plan to privatise Staatsolie in 1999 was met with widespread protests that ultimately forced the president to leave office.
A committee made up of state and company officials will conduct a study and offer recommendations to the government.
Waaldijk said the goal would be to create an ownership structure similar to that of Brazil’s Petrobras or Colombia’s Ecopetrol, which sold shares to private investors but left the government in control of key decisions. Staatsolie, which produces 16,000 barrels daily, has already carried out a local bond issue for US$55 million and secured a US$245 million loan from a consortium of foreign lenders. In 2010, it reported revenue of US$566 million and a before-tax profit of US$291 million.